What Does Organic Mean?

More of the good stuff, less of the bad

More than just Free Range

Choosing organic meat and dairy products has huge benefits not just for the animals that produce them, but also for farmers and the environment.

In the face of climate change, rising diet-related ill-health and widespread declines in our wildlife, the need to produce healthy food, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and protect wildlife grows more acute by the year.   There is no magic bullet to tackle the challenges that face us, but the buying decisions we make every day are a simple but powerful form of direct action.

A symbol of trust

Fairtrade, free-range, natural and organic – there are so many symbols to look out for these days it can be confusing knowing which is best for you.  Whatever you’re buying, when you choose organic, you choose products that have been produced to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards. It means fewer pesticides, no artificial additives or preservatives and absolutely no GM.

All organic products come from trusted sources. When you see the Soil Association organic symbol, you know the product has met a strict set of standards which define what farmers and manufacturers can and cannot do during production.  All organic farms and manufacturing companies are inspected at least once a year and the standards for organic food are laid down in European law. Getting organic certification isn’t easy and when you buy an organic product you know what you’re buying really is what it says on the tin.

Find out more about organic standards.

Organic pigs – Happier healthier animals

Organic pigs are kept in conditions that, as far as possible, allow them to express their natural behaviour. This includes being kept in family groups with free access to fields when conditions allow. In practice this means that most organic pigs will be outdoors all year round, though indoor housing is permitted in severe weather conditions, provided that there is plenty of straw bedding for the pigs, and continued access to an outdoor run.

Soil Association standards ban several practices that are common in the non-organic pig industry. These include:

  • Nose ringing – this is used to prevent pigs from natural rooting behaviour
  • Tail docking – pigs in confined spaces often bite each other’s tails, so non-organic producers dock tails to prevent this
  • Farrowing crates – these are small metal cage only inches wider than the female pig, which are used around the time she gives birth to restrict her movement and prevent her from following maternal instincts.
  • The routine use of antibiotics on organic animals is banned. Many non-organic pigs, poultry and dairy cows receive antibiotics routinely, whether or not they are unwell. Under EU law, farmers are even allowed to give animals antibiotics which are critically important in human medicine.
  • Look for the Soil Association logo and you can be sure the pork or bacon you’re eating has been raised to the very highest standards and is fully traceable from farm to fork.

More information about organic cows and sheep.

With thanks to the Soil Association for copy – please visit their website for more information.

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