What makes organic food “organic”?

What makes organic food "organic"?

Organic food items is no extended a niche marketplace.

Income of natural and organic food stuff products and solutions in the European Union have extra than doubled about the past 10 years – from €16.3 billion in 2008 to €37.4 billion in 2018 – and desire proceeds to expand.

Nonetheless, several Europeans are even now doubtful of what “organic and natural” truly indicates. Is it all-natural? Free of charge of pesticides? Regionally developed?

Nicely not exactly. Right here are some of the ailments food goods should meet up with in purchase to be viewed as organic and natural in the EU:

No artificial fertilisers

Purely natural fertilisers, such as compost and seaweed derivatives, are critical to protecting fertile and healthier soil. So natural and organic food must be grown with these goods, rather than synthetic fertilisers that are utilised in regular farming, and which tend to be created of harsher chemical substances such as nitrogen compounds, phosphorus, and potassium.

“Natural farming enhances soil constructions and high-quality and enhances biodiversity. Experiments have proven that organic farming existing 30% much more of biodiversity in the fields”, points out Elena Panichi, Head of Unit at DG Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI).

No artificial pesticides

Farmers will need to combat weeds and pests. Organic and natural farmers are only permitted to use obviously-derived pesticides, made from plants, animals, microorganisms, or minerals.

“These substances are of a all-natural origin. For occasion, essential oils, plant extracts, that are mentioned in the related regulation, and are authorised, adhering to a method that indicates a scientific committee to assess the impact on the natural environment”, suggests Panichi.

Natural and organic farms also have tactics these as crop rotation, or planting various crops on the exact plot of land, to support to prevent soil-borne illnesses.

All-natural predators, these types of as ladybugs, can also be an effective system of pest handle.

Nevertheless, it is essential to keep in mind that just because a thing is “natural”, it does not automatically make it harmless to possibly persons or the environment.


To be qualified as “organic”, food stuff are unable to consist of products produced from genetically modified crops.

This rule is the very same for natural meat and other livestock merchandise. Moreover, the animals are to be raised on 100% organic feed.

Antibiotics as a previous vacation resort

The animals we take in, or whose goods we consume, require to be kept illness-free of charge. Several regular farmers routinely use antibiotics for disease avoidance. These can conclusion up producing their way into the food items chain.

Abnormal antibiotics are not superior for individuals or animals for the reason that they can enable generate superbugs. Antimicrobial resistance is a global worry. Each calendar year, all around 33, 000 people die in the EU, owing to infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

On natural and organic farms, the use of antibiotics is seriously limited. Farmers management sickness by limiting the range of animals they raise and using methods this kind of as a healthier food plan for their livestock. They are only authorized to use antibiotics when certainly necessary for an animal”s health, in get to steer clear of struggling, and when organic solutions these kinds of as phytotherapeutic and homoeopathic medicines are not effective.

“If in common [farming], sometimes antibiotics are offered as preventive applications, in organics, antibiotics can be provided as a last vacation resort if there are no other solutions to intervene. Ordinarily, the greater animal welfare standards applied in organics now continue to keep animals in a much healthier status that avoid the use of antibiotics”, clarifies Panichi.

Even so, research have shown that antibiotic use on farms is on the decline. Revenue of animal antibiotics in the EU have fallen by far more than 34% amongst 2011 and 2018.

Superior animal welfare

Organic farmers ought to give the environmental problems needed for animals to categorical their natural conduct, these as adequate out of doors place. This is not obligatory in typical farming.

There are extra policies these as the prohibition on caging or mutilation except if completely necessary for wellbeing motives.

What “organic” does not signify

Locally grown

Europeans are the 2nd major shoppers of organic in the earth. Neighborhood supply can’t meet demand from customers but, so a huge range of natural goods are imported.

China, Ukraine, Dominican Republic and Ecuador are the major EU trade partners for natural and organic foods imports.

“Inexperienced” packaging

Text like “natural”, “green” or “eco” on labels and packaging do not always indicate a item is organic.


There’s a extensive range of natural product on grocery store cabinets, from burgers to pizzas, from cheese to wine. The health and fitness implications of consuming excess fat, salt or sugar will not vanish just since a meals item is organic. As well a great deal fat, salt and sugar is still undesirable for you, no matter whether it is organic or not.

How can you be certain that the “organic” foodstuff you’re buying is actually organic?

The most responsible way to know if a product is natural and organic is if it has this official EU emblem.

The white leaf on a inexperienced background usually means that EU regulations on manufacturing, processing, handling and distribution, have been followed and that the solution incorporates at the very least 95% organic components. This symbol can only be employed on products and solutions that have been accredited by an authorised command agency or overall body.

Some countries have also established their possess organic and natural logos. They are optional and complementary to the EU’s leaf. This is the French a person, for occasion.

New principles coming in 2022

EU guidelines on organic generation will modify soon. In 2022, Europe will have laws with stricter controls.

Panichi thinks it will convey a “sizeable advancement” to the organic sector.

“We have to bear in thoughts that the new natural and organic legislation is not a revolution, but it is really an evolution of the natural and organic legislation that started out in the earlier yrs and has been kept evolving collectively with the sector”.

The new laws will harmonise principles for non-EU and EU producers. It will also simplify processes for modest farms in get to attract new producers, thanks to a new technique of team validation.

The checklist of organic foods is predicted to improve, with the addition of solutions such as salt and cork. The probability of certifying bugs as natural is also predicted in the policies.

What is the long term of organics?

“Surfaces in Europe are raising or as well as all more than the globe, and they are growing at a fast speed,” claims Panichi.

As part of its Farm To Fork technique, the EU has dedicated to expanding natural and organic creation, with the purpose of 25% of all agricultural land becoming applied for organic and natural farming by 2030. In 2019, it was only about 8%.

By 2030, Europe also aims to minimize the use of harmful chemical substances and hazardous pesticides by 50%.

Buying natural foodstuff is continue to far too high priced for many. A single of Farm To Fork’s main plans is to make balanced, sustainable foods additional obtainable and reasonably priced to all Europeans. A French from 2019 exhibits that a basket of 8 organic fruits and 8 organic and natural vegetables is, on ordinary, twice as high-priced as a basket of non-natural and organic products and solutions.

Observe: The requirements shown in this write-up are just some of the conditions necessary for a product or service to be thought of natural and organic. If you want to know much more about what is necessary to attain the inexperienced emblem, you should examine the EU regulation.