So let me start by wishing you a very happy and healthful 2017! As for us, we are on day two of Organic January. Hooray! Yesterday went smoothly, as I’d done a lot of good preparation beforehand. But I’m sad to say I had hit some interesting bumps in the road in the week or so leading up to New Year when my research discovered:
- The word ‘organic’ doesn’t necessarily mean what I think it means.
- There is a good argument for ‘fresh’ over ‘organic’.
- We simply don’t live in a world right now that enables us to be 100% organic.
So firstly, let’s look at this ‘organic’ label.
There are several wonderful cafes on the Sunshine Coast with the word ‘organic’ either in their name or in their ethos. I listed them out so as to be prepared, but then dug a bit deeper. Were they really organic?
No, sadly. I emailed five of the best and was told over and over that no, not everything was organic. Sadder still, the extent of the organic food might have stopped at coffee, tea and milk.
Dear organic cafes, I implore you, please don’t use the word ‘organic’ in the name of your establishment if you are not in fact 100% organic. Secondly, I also suggest that the best thing you could do would be to label your menu with an organic symbol, just like you do for gluten free or vegetarian options. Trust me, I will buy your organic food and be grateful you were honest.
And by the way, this discrepancy in organic labelling applies to foodstuffs in organic supermarkets too. The front of the package might say it’s organic, but if you read the ingredients, it might not be all it purports to be.
On the upside, there was just ONE cafe who responded that in fact, yes, they were 100% organic. Hooray!! Thank you and congratulations to New Earth Cafe in Coolum. You will be our choice of cafe for the whole of January 🙂
So what about ‘fresh’ over ‘organic’?
This was a big revelation for me, when I generally assume organic means better. Mostly, I’d say this was true. BUT, a champion of organics here on the coast wrote to me, in response to my question, that the way food is grown has an awful lot to do with the vitality and nutritional value of what you end up consuming. A lot of farmers might be employing permaculture or biodynamic principles, really investing in the soil and the long-term health of their farm, and getting that food to you a day after it’s picked, but not have an organic certification label.
On the other hand, you might have farmers doing the bare minimum for their soil and plants, simply to have an organic label on food they can ask a higher price for. And then there’s food miles. That organic food that is wrapped up tightly in plastic and sitting on the supermarket shelf may have been in transit for weeks or even months before it gets to you and clearly has less nutritional value than food from the conscientious farmer who picked it yesterday. Hmm… gets tricky, does’t it? This one, more than anything else, made me dig deeper into the why of my plan.
Obviously, you want the best of both worlds, someone who is certified organic and who is also invested in producing the highest nutritional value in their food and can get it to you straight after it’s picked. If you’re a local, I can’t endorse Fresh Box enough . They do all this hard research for you and deliver it to your door and the food is fresh, fresh, fresh! You can feel it as soon as you open the box! (Image above of my son whipping off the box lid the second it arrived and helping himself to a carrot.)
The world isn’t ready for Organic January
This revelation was also a difficult one to swallow. As much as we might want it, there is just a huge gap in the availability of organics right now. Access has improved a lot over the past ten years, for sure. But there’s a long way to go. I often turn up to the ‘organic’ butcher only to find there is no organic chicken, only free-range. Certified organic skincare products are few and far between. Organic cafes (as discussed) simply aren’t. Organic products on the shelf (as I found) are often a mixture of organic and not.
I’ll be honest, this was really deflating. All my shiny new year idealistic ideas of being 100% pure were falling down around me. I had to accept that maybe I’d have to make compromises.
BUT!! Every year it will get better. I truly believe that. The power of the consumer is just that–power. We have to put our money where our mouths are, literally.
So, onward we go with Organic January!