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Organic September: Celebrating 50 years of Britain's organic journey

As we bid farewell to Organic September 2023, it's an opportune moment to look back on the remarkable progress made in the realm of organic farming.

This year, we celebrated the golden jubilee of the UK's organic certification, underscoring Britain's dedication to environmentally-friendly and chemical-free agricultural methods.

In 1973, Britain pioneered certification programmes, allowing farmers to demonstrate their commitment to avoiding detrimental chemicals in their farming and production techniques.

This move was in tandem with the nascent stages of environmental activism, with entities such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth emerging a couple of years earlier. Since then, the organic ethos has burgeoned, underlining its pivotal role in our contemporary food landscape and its promise for the coming years.

Alex Cullen of the Soil Association, a prominent certification body in the UK, emphasised the stringent regulations surrounding organic produce in both the EU and the UK post-Brexit. Such produce undergoes meticulous independent checks to confirm its genuine organic nature.

Delving into the essence of organic labelling, Harriet Bell from Riverford, an organic vegetable box enterprise, elucidated the core principles. Beyond merely eschewing chemical pesticides and genetically modified crops, organic agriculture also champions superior animal welfare and fosters a vibrant soil ecosystem.

The ecological advantages of organic methods are clear-cut. Techniques like composting and using green manures are notably less carbon-intensive than their traditional counterparts.

Cullen highlighted that embracing organic agricultural practices could lead to a substantial reduction in the UK's farming emissions. Moreover, the biodiversity on organic farms is typically richer by about 50%, encompassing a diverse range of flora, fauna, and avian life, primarily due to the non-use of harmful pesticides.

From a health vantage point, there's mounting data indicating potential health risks associated with pesticide exposure. Furthermore, organic produce tends to be richer in nutrients, boasting elevated concentrations of antioxidants and essential micronutrients.

This year's Organic September has been a triumph, underscoring the significance of eco-friendly farming practices and their myriad benefits for our planet and well-being.

As we march ahead, the insights gleaned from this month will surely influence the trajectory of British agriculture in the years to come.


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