Why we have switched to Organic this September.
Here at WC HQ we are extremely passionate about organic food and beauty, so we have been supporting the UK’s biggest month long campaign for organic with the Soil Association – the UK’s largest organic certification body because together we can make a world of difference.
Why does Organic actually matter?
Most people know that organic means not using pesticides. Organic is so much more than that. What are the differences between organic farming and conventional? Non Organic farmers can use 300 artificial pesticides linked to 75% drop in bees. Organic farms embrace natural predators: organic fields and hedges provide a habitat for predatory bugs. Conventional farmers use artificial fertilisers made from non-renewable sources. Nitrogen based fertilisers are the biggest sources of all nitrous oxide emissions. Organic farms lay green manures, by growing speedy crops like cloves then they plough them into the soil building nutrients naturally. Antibiotics are overused in conventional farming too. Did you know farm animals account for 40% of antibiotic use in the UK? This is banned in Organic farming with animals being treated when they need it which is rare. Organic is simply better for nature, wildlife, the planet, building healthy soils and us. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed significant differences in nutritional benefit between organic & non-organic farming.
What qualifies a food product to be certified by the Soil Association?
Any product sold as ‘organic’ in the EU must comply with a set of standards which are traceable from farm to fork. Products that meet these standards can use the Euro Leaf (EU organic logo) or the Soil Association organic symbol (if certified to Soil Association standards) on their packaging. It’s an assurance to customers that what they’re buying is genuine and fully traceable back to the farm.
Soil Association standards not only comply with the EU, but comprise additional standards, so any product certified by the Soil Association will be of the highest organic quality.
Organic standards are based on all aspects of organic food manufacture, production, storage and sales. Certifying bodies consider everything from packaging to animal welfare and wildlife conservation, and ban unnecessary and harmful food additives in organic processed foods.
The Soil Association stamp guarantees that a product has gone through stringent inspection to ensure it complies with all organic standards.
Is it the same for beauty products?
Many of the principles are the same, however due to the lack of regulation surrounding organic and natural cosmetic certification, the Soil Association follow their own standards set by COSMOS. COSMOS is a collection of certification bodies from around the world who have come together to create one harmonised standard for the industry.
Before certifying products, they look at the end-to-end manufacturing process. Each ingredient making up the formulation also needs to be verified.
The principles include:
· No genetically modified (GM) ingredients
· No non-biodegradable chemicals
· No synthetic preservatives
What are the other UK-approved organic certification bodies we can look out for?
For cosmetics, it’s Natrue. For food, it’s Organic Farmers and Growers or the Organic Food Federation.
What’s the difference between you and other UK-approved organic bodies?
Soil Associations focus is predominately on organics, whereas some of our competitors tend to focus on natural cosmetics. Soil Association and COSMOS are both third-party, unbiased accreditors with no commercial interest and therefore our standards are transparent and our primary mission is to safeguard organic and natural cosmetics for the consumer. Soil Association/COSMOS standards also tend to be stricter than those of other certifying bodies.
When products say ‘organic' on them but don’t have the Soil Association logo, what does that mean?
Food products need to be genuinely organic to make those claims. They need to have been legally certified by an autonomous body such as the Soil Association. So, if they don’t have the Soil Association symbol, you should check for another symbol such as the Euro Leaf.
Some products may not have a symbol on them, but if they claim to be organic you should be able to find out which certification body they are registered with by looking online or contacting the company directly.
Unfortunately, for cosmetics, fashion and textiles, this standard doesn’t exist and brands can make ANY organic or natural claims on product packaging, without the need to contain organic or natural ingredients within their product formulations.
It’s known in the industry as ‘greenwashing’ and it is very much a live issue that is becoming more widespread as the interest in organic and natural alternatives grows.
How to make the gradual switch to organic
I recommend that when switching to organic produce, you make it a gradual process, to help you adjust to the price difference. Knowing which foods make up the ‘Clean Fifteen’ and the ‘Dirty Dozen’ will help keep your budget in check.
Next time you’re doing your shopping, why not take the below list with you? Or stick it on your fridge. It contains the fruits and vegetables that are most and least contaminated by pesticides.
The ‘Dirty Dozen’ should always be bought organically if you can:
3. Sweet bell peppers
The ‘Clean Fifteen’ are cleaner than you might think, so non-organic is fine if you can’t stretch to organic:
6. Sweet peas
11. Cantaloupe melons
12. Sweet potatoes
You’re worth every penny you put in your body so don’t budget on quality. We’ll happily spend so much money on the new iPhone or a new piece of clothing but the amount of people who cut back on the quality of what they’re putting into their bodies that make us who we are amazes me. It Is everything.
‘The greatest wealth is health’ - Virgil