Amidst a growing tide, the Organic September movement champions awareness and education as it advocates for the shift towards organic lifestyles. Beyond personal health benefits, the movement highlights its impact on agriculture and the environment. This domino effect begins with individuals embracing incremental changes that collectively catalyze substantial global transformation. By choosing organic, we not only nurture our own well-being but also inspire farmers to adopt sustainable practices that ripple through ecosystems. Every mindful decision we make, from our dinner plates to our daily products, weaves into the larger fabric of a greener future. In unity, we kindle a movement that illuminates the profound interconnectedness of our choices and propels us towards a more vibrant future.
The convenience of supermarkets is undeniable, but it’s worth considering the subtle control it has over our dietary choices. Though we can acknowledge their practicality, it can be disheartening to see the scarcity of diverse fruits and vegetables, particularly seasonal produce and everything is often cloaked in plastic wrappings. The issue deepens when we examine the substantial food waste and the unfortunate marginalisation of produce deemed less than picture-perfect. There is the hopeful glimmer of the “wonky veg” ranges in select supermarkets, but the journey towards a sustainable, diverse supermarket experience is far from complete. Paying more for organic produce can deter people from making the switch but are we just used to supermarkets dominating our food buying habits with cheaper quality food which has a knock-on effect on the planet and we’re none the wiser to what’s in our food?
I am not saying it’s time to completely boycott supermarkets, throw everything out and replace with 100% sustainable, organic, vegan and cruelty-free - that’s pretty intimidating and just not reality. The aim this month; is to give you something to think about, take away and perhaps give you some ideas to make those small changes.
GROW YOUR OWN
The best way to ensure you know how your produce has been grown is by growing it! In last month’s issue (August OM171) I lovingly researched and put together ways you can grow your own patch, garden or no garden and provided some tips, tricks and fruit and veg to try growing. You then have the freedom to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs you’d like to have in your diet. If you have the space, you could even get yourself some chickens for some fresh eggs.
MARKETS & FARMS
The Plymouth Market is brilliant for organic and local produce with the offering of meats and fish as well as the vibrant and abundant fruit and vegetable stall, Joe Browns. Buy with confidence knowing the produce on offer is seasonal, local and fresh and you can select how much you want to buy reducing waste.
Call me crazy, but I enjoy wandering into Farm Shops and seeing the variety of vegetables, bread, milk, jams, cheeses and so on. The ones I highly recommend are Countryman’s Choice Farm Shop, Ivybridge and Ben’s Farm Shop, Yealmpton. It feels like a form of self-care weaving through the abundant shelves, marvelling and discovering all the local and organic produce.
To make life that little bit more easier you can opt for organic fruit and vegetable boxes to be delivered straight to your front door. Their popularity is on the rise and it’s understandable with the comfort of knowing your food is organic, reduced unnecessary packaging and it’s locally grown with fair pay to the farmers.
THE DIRTY DOZEN
The foundation of The Dirty Dozen originates from the Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN) examination in September 2021 of the yearly reports (2018, 2019, and 2020), produced by the UK Government’s Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF). Through comprehensive analysis and consolidation of three years’ worth of data, they’ve provided consumers with a more transparent understanding of which types of UK produce are more prone to contain elevated levels of pesticide residues.
Pesticides are poisons that are sprayed on the produce to kill off any living organisms. Pesticides are made up of thousands of different active substances to kill plants, insects, mould and fungi. Sadly, these are not just sprayed once, crops are sprayed multiple times during the growing season. For example, as many as 20 different chemicals can be applied to wheat alone!
There’s a mass amount of information about what pesticides can do to our health, some linked to increasing risks of Parkinson’s disease, and several types of cancer and there is a concern around expecting mothers where the chemicals can affect brain development and cause other disorders and disabilities. The list truly does go on and it’s extremely eye-opening.
So let’s make some small changes to our shopping habits and switch out any of these dirty dozen and opt for the organic alternative; % of samples with multiple pesticide residues - otherwise known as the ‘cocktail effect,'
Soft Citrus (eg mandarins, satsumas) 96%
Raisins and Sultanas 82%
Pre-packed Salad 81%
Peaches and Nectarines 67%
Washing and peeling the fruit and veg can possibly reduce the level of pesticides on the outside but they are absorbed into the produce itself. You can read more information about this on pan-uk.org.
IT’S BETTER FOR THE PLANET
Organic farming champions environmental respect, enhancing soil, water, and air health while leading sustainability efforts. If all of Europe’s farmland embraced organic principles, agricultural emissions could plummet by 40-50% by 2050, feeding a growing population well. Organic farms prioritize animals’ good lives, offering high welfare standards. They create wildlife havens, with 50% more life on average and a 75% boost in wild bees. Pesticide use is limited, and organic practices foster ecosystems that control pests. Cleaner waterways and safer food emerge due to organic farming’s standards. Choosing organic supports health, planet, and animals while cultivating a resilient farming future.
The Soil Association is a fantastic charity working with everyone from farmers, consumers, corporations and all in between to transform the way we eat, farm and care for our natural world. Scan the QR code below for further tips on Organic Living on a Budget and explore the website.