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.
- It’s better for you: no pesticide residues, strict control on additives, far fewer antibiotics and arguably better flavour and nutritional value.
- Better for animals: the highest standards backed up by law; far higher than free range.
- Better for the environment: more biodiversity, particularly in the soil, and about a third less CO2 emissions.
- Better for those who work the land: we are not exposed to pesticides.
- 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.
Farming organically is just the start. If you decide it is important to be fair to the environment and animals it is an inevitable step to want to be fair to staff, suppliers and customers. That extends to the local vegmen and ladies who deliver your boxes. Next month we gather with them for our annual head-scratching and navel-gazing about why we do what we do and how we could it better. There will be some prizes for customer service so if you would like to put in a good word for your vegman please email firstname.lastname@example.org.