Issues > Food & Drink > Environment > Organics
Organic products are produced through various measures that enhance the wellbeing of the land, animals, and humans involved. Organic farms must not use synthetic fertilisers, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), antibiotics, irradiation, and human-made nanoparticles. They also need to put in place practices that: maintain or improve soil health, equitably manage water, are appropriate for the local ecosystem, minimise water and ground pollution, preserve native species, prioritise animal welfare, and more.
Organic products have many benefits for the environment, health, and animal welfare. Organic farms result in greater biodiversity, better soil and water quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and an overall more sustainable agricultural system. A certain level of animal welfare is also required for certified organic products. Studies show that those who eat organic have significantly lower exposure to pesticides. Organic produce also tends to have more vitamins, antioxidants, and good fats. While the evidence is still developing on whether these lead to a significant health difference, they are certainly a solid indicator.
However, it is important to take care when buying organic products. Just because something is labelled as organic does not necessarily mean it is. Australian products sold locally do not need to be certified or meet the national standard to be labelled organic. Instead, companies simply need to be able to "substantiate their claims". To ensure your product is organic, you should look for certification. Examples are Australian Certified Organic, Biological Farmers of Australia, and NAASA. It should also be noted that organic foods tend to have a lower yield. This means that more land needs to be cleared to meet the same demand, bringing its own environmental issues.
Buy directly from farmers who use organic methods, or subscribe to an organic box service that delivers organic food to your door at regular intervals. You can find farmers' markets and other organic retailers in your area with Local Harvest.
Find out which fruits and vegetables expose you to the most and least pesticides so you'll know which ones to buy organic, and which conventionally grown ones are okay when organic isn't available.