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What Does Organic Mean?

Organic food is all muck and magic?

It must be said that there is nothing magical or mysterious about organic farming. It is simply a low input / low output system - one which our ancestors would have understood. Its approach is based on maintaining a sound and well balanced soil.

Put simply, the organic system of farming is the purest, practical way to minimise chemicals in food, and environmental impact, combined with the highest standards of animal welfare.

Whereas, over the past 40 years, science and economics have moved conventional farming towards the increased use of chemicals in ensuring good nutrition and health in crops and animals, the organic approach is that these tasks should be carried out naturally, without the use of chemical interference.

"Food, one assumes, provides nourishment, but Americans eat it fully aware that small amounts of poison have been added to improve its appearance and delay its putrefactionJohn Cage - 'Indeterminacy' from 'Silence', 1961

What is Organic meat?

The primary characteristics of Organic meat production are:

  1. It is a legally defined standard.
  2. There is a registered, documented and inspected trail from "farm gate to dinner plate".
  3. It operates to the very highest levels of animal welfare.
  4. No routine drugs, growth promoters, animal offal or any other additives are fed to animals. (Sick animals may of course be treated).
  5. At least 70% of animal feed must be grown to organic standards.
  6. No use of artificial fertilisers or pesticides on feed crops or grass is permitted.
  7. No use of Genetically Modified Organisms is allowed

What guarantee is there that our meat is Organic?

The food chain  from farm to retailer is regularly inspected by one of the national certifying bodies. For meat, the chain goes from farmer to abattoir to packer/processor to retailer. At any time, any link in that chain can be inspected, and detailed records must be kept all along the chain to prove that any piece of meat really is organic.

The Legal Aspects of Organic Food

Organic food production has a legal definition within the EC.Within the UK, a minimum legal standard is set by government, with advice from ACOS (Advisory Committee on Organic Standards). Each stage of the organic food chain, from farms to shops (if they process the food in any way) must be inspected and registered in the UK by bodies such as the Quality Welsh Food Certification LtdSoil AssociationOrganic Farmers and Growers or the Organic Food Federation.

Each country within the EC and many outside has its own registration bodies. Biodynamic farming is slighly different to organic farming, but falls under the same legislation is described as organic.

Nobody may legally claim that the food they sell is organic food unless it has been inspected and certified at every stage of its production. This is what makes organic food different from any other food production systems.
 

Is Organic meat often more expensive?

Modern intensive farming techniques have been developed because the extra income they produce is worth much more than the cost of the inputs - you spend a little to gain a lot.

To farm organically requires changes from modern intensive farming practices, including a minimal use of inputs, and often much lower production levels, resulting in lower income to the farmer. So, although organic farmers use fewer inputs, and so save some money, they also miss out on the much greater financial benefits and increased production levels of modem farming inputs. As a result in order to remain financially viable, organic farmers must receive more for their produce than a conventional farmer.

The more intensive conventional farming methods are, the more organic farmers need to receive to provide them with reasonable levels of income. For example, the premium on organic beef is much less than that for pigs and poultry.

So when somebody asks what is organic? Our answer is very simple, nothing added nothing taken away. Our  organic products are produced using traditional farming methods and deliver all of the benefits of organic.