why organic?

I know a significant number of customers don’t care whether the box on their doorstep is organic so long as the veg is fresh, tastes good and is reasonably priced. They tend to be male and bemoan the lack of frozen peas in their diet since Riverford got in the door. Many have a suspicion that the whole organic thing is a bit of a fad and perhaps even a con. Had I not grown up on a farm I suspect I might have been one of them, but after 25 years of farming organically I would never go back. As we are in the middle of Organic Fortnight I thought I would say, very briefly, why.

  1. It’s better for you: no pesticide residues, strict control on additives, far fewer antibiotics and arguably better flavour and nutritional value.
  2. Better for animals: the highest standards backed up by law; far higher than free range.
  3. Better for the environment: more biodiversity, particularly in the soil, and about a third less CO2 emissions.
  4. Better for those who work the land: we are not exposed to pesticides.
  5. Better for humanity: organic farming teaches humility in the face of nature. All world rulers should have a veg patch; we would have fewer wars (just my opinion, that one).

I could cite evidence and scientific papers, but I am sure the anti lobby could cite just as many proving the opposite. You will have to make up your own minds. Most conventional growers I meet do not eat the veg they grow commercially; many have their own gardens which they tend, very nearly, organically. To me that says it all.

Guy Watson

3 responses to “why organic?

  1. Julian Summerhayes

    A great post. I love reading about recipes but not too many! Sorry. We all love Jane’s cooking but I suspect that most people would rather buy the experiene than try and recreate it for themselves.

    Guy Kawasaki talks about “Jumping the Curve” (and I don’t think the organic movement has done it yet..) and I think one of if not the major challenge for the organic movement is to thoroughly demonstrate the cost/benefit because otherwise the average shopper/consumer will go with the line of least resistance and continue to shop for the cheapest. I know this is an incredibly difficult one but I think people need this sort of metric and perhaps there needs to be more sampling of produce to persuade people that the taste is so super fantastic, you will never want to go back to eating the bland old stuff again.


  2. Guy, you have just described my husband’s thoughts on organics to a T! I had no idea it was such a ‘male thing’!! Peas (frozen or preferably the mushy variety) along with fish fingers and chips are his absolute favourite.

    I hasten to add that being the head chef in our house and especially since becoming a Riverford customer between four and five years ago, we eat an extremely healthy diet most of the time. (I do serve my husband’s favourite occasionally – nowhere as often as he would like!)

    I am a staunch supporter of organically produced food for the very reasons you have stated. I am pleased to say that I am not thought of, amongst friends and family, as being quite as ‘odd’ or ‘hippy-like’ as I was years ago and have even persuaded some of them to convert.

    We continue to enjoy the wonderfully fresh and tasty produce from Riverford; thank you Guy and to everyone concerned, (especially Simon and Andi who are responsible for getting our deliveries to us on time, every week; even during all that snow last winter!).

    I remember you recently writing about tomatoes, Guy – they are one of my favourites. I don’t have a greenhouse but I do love all those unusual varieties, small or large, round or plum, yellow, red, black, mottled etc. I occasionally see them at farmers’ markets and my mother has grown different varieties over the years for us to try. Any chance of Riverford growing more varieties in the future?

  3. I second that about tomato varieties, is the problem with that resistence to blight? I know heated greenhouses add to cost and environmental cost but would cold greenhouses be the answer?

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