Q&A for consumers

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1. Is organic tastier?
There are good reasons why top chefs prefer fresh organic ingredients. They provide the best guarantee of flavour and structure, and so delicious dishes on the table. An organic tomato tastes of tomato, not water. Organic meat tastes of natural foodstuffs. And organic milk of a meadow full of clover and herbs.
2. What makes organic more environmentally-friendly?
The organic farmer uses only natural methods to keep his soil fertile and to fight disease. That ensures that his ditches and groundwater stay clean, allowing vulnerable plants and animals to thrive. It has also been proven scientifically that organic farming is the most climate-friendly form of agriculture.
3. What makes organic meat better for animals?
Organic meat comes from animals which have led a good and natural life, with high-quality feed and plenty of room to move. Organic cows and chickens can roam outdoors, and organic pigs can wallow in the mud, and without losing their tails.
4. If we all go organic, will there still be enough food for everyone in the world?
Hunger is more a problem of distribution than one of agriculture. In any case, scientists have shown that organic farming in poorer parts of the world offers better protection against extreme weather conditions, disease and plagues, and so actually increases yields there. That compensates for the lower yields in the industrialised world.
5. How do I know that “organic” really means organic?
The description “organic” is protected by law. In that, it differs from such terms as “free range”, “traditional” and “farmhouse”. Only controlled products which meet all the legal requirements can be called “organic” and labelled with the EU organic logo. The controls are carried out by government-approved certification bodies, such as Skal in the Netherlands.
6. What about flavourings, colourings and aromas?
Organic products are as natural as they possibly can be. That gives you the best guarantee of a pure flavour. Moreover, only absolutely essential additives are used during processing.
Because of that, organic cheese is yellower in the summer than in the winter. And organic strawberry yogurt tastes of strawberries and nothing else.
7. Why is organic more expensive?
If organic products are more expensive, there is always a good reason. For instance, organic eggs cost more because the hens are given better food and have a whole field to run around in. Organic apple juice is more expensive because the orchards require more care and because nature sometimes causes a crop to fail. But many organic groceries, like rice, spaghetti, olive oil and frozen vegetables, now cost more or less the same as top non-organic brands.
8. Is organic healthier?
Organic farming is environmentally-friendly, and everyone benefits from that even if they do not eat organic produce. There has actually been very little scientific research into the possible health benefits of organic food for the individual consumer. But many people like the idea that there is very little chance that it contains pesticide residues. Moreover, organic products contain an absolute minimum of preservatives and other additives. Animals reared organically are given medicines only when they are actually ill, not systematically fed antibiotics as a preventive measure. Some organic fruits and vegetables have been shown to contain more vitamins and other nutrients. And organic milk naturally contains more beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids.
9. What does an organic farmer do differently?
The organic farmer thinks and works in a different way. He believes that nature can provide everything he needs to farm successfully, as long as his soil is healthy and fertile and his animals are resistant to disease. So that determines the way he works. By choosing crops which suit the natural conditions on his farm, he has no need to use pesticides or artificial fertiliser. And he tries to give nature a helping hand whenever he can. By preserving hedgerows, for example, and creating nesting grounds for birds.
10. Is organic the same as vegetarian?
No – there is also organic meat. “Organic” means that a food has been produced and processed under controlled conditions, with close attention to animal welfare, nature and the environment. The label can be applied to almost all foods, except those taken from the wild, like sea fish and game, where such controls are not possible.
Source: Bionext, the Netherlands, www.bionext.nl