• The Sustainable Student | Guest Author

why you should buy organic fruit and veg.

Organic food standards apply to all links in the food supply chain, from the soil used in farms through methods of storage, to the distribution onto shop shelves.

The first guiding principle of organic food is the production of high-quality food using processes that do not harm the environment, human health, plant health or animal welfare. Specifically, it aims to create a food industry that works with natural systems, maintains fertility of soils, treats livestock ethically and maximises the use of renewable energy and recycling.

the use of fertilisers and pesticides.

Chemical fertilisers and pesticides are common in industrial agriculture and were originally sourced from repurposed war chemicals left over from the Second World War. These industrial farming chemicals certainly do have the effect of killing unwanted pests and weeds but how do they affect the food that ends up on your plate? This is a very complex issue, so I won’t make any unfounded claims but in my mind it’s not a plus.

unsustainable agriculture.

Agriculture is the most important factor contributing to the sustainability of human life on our planet. This also means that it has the greatest capacity to adapt and provide solutions for climate change, global human health and sustainability. It is estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that about a quarter of ice-free land area has been degraded by human activity.

Unsustainable agricultural practices are continuing to reduce the availability of fertile topsoil which is creating food insecurity. In light of the issues with unsustainable agriculture many new and innovative methods of farming have emerged. Far from being modern, many of the agricultural methods that are being reintroduced reflect traditional and even ancient ways of farming. Innovations such as Regenerative Agriculture, Multistrata Agroforestry and Drip Irrigation promise to sustain the quality of our farmland. However, these are not always the cheapest methods of growing and present high transitional and start costs. By buying organic you are not only consuming more nutrient dense and chemical free produce, you are also supporting farming practices that will enable future generations to grow good quality food.

want to buy organic?

On a student budget it is hardly feasible to pack your weekly shop full of the highest quality organic goods. Whilst I advocate the use of as much organic ingredients as possible it is unfeasible for those of us living off a maintenance loan. Therefore, it is helpful to know what products will give you the least detrimental health bang for your lack of buck. Industrial farming chemicals tend to absorb into the skin of fruit and vegetables that are exposed to the air when spraying. With this in mind, the less affected products are those with skins that you peel off before consumption such as oranges and bananas or that grow under the ground, including most root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots. The products that are most heavily affected by chemical spraying are those with very absorbent skins and generally grow close to the ground. These include berries, aubergines and tomatoes. So, if you’re looking to splash out on some organic produce keep this in mind.

I hope this has given you a little insight into the story behind the organic label and informed you about the implications and power of your purchases.

Stay sustainable.

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