Despite advancements in food legislation and labelling what we often end up with are consumers who are often confused about what they are buying. This is also the case with organic food. The most frequently question organic producers are is what exactly is organic food?
In the EU the term organic is legally binding when it comes to food so if it says organic on the label then it must carry a certification logo such as IOFGA’s. If it is prepacked then it must also contain the EU organic logo. That is the customers guarantee that it has met the organic standards.
But what sets organic food apart from non organic food is really how it is produced. Organic food and farming does not allow the use of artificial pesticides (including herbicides, fungicides and insecticides). Organic food does not contain any GM ingredients. Meat and animal products coming from an organic farm follow the highest animal welfare standards in agriculture. Organic food is climate friendly. These farming methodologies are enshrined in organic farming standards and food carrying an organic logo must be produced adhering to these standards.
Any other benefits to organic food are purely subjective such as observations that organic food has a better taste and flavour, organic food is fresher. It is true that organic food particularly fresh produce has a shorter shelf life but that is because nothing can be added to it to extend its shelf life!
Therefore as National Organic Week approaches with many organic products being promoted be aware of what you are buying and what exactly organic food is (or isn’t!). There is a greater availability of Irish organic products now available which reflects the growing interest in organic food in Ireland.