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Organic
& you?

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Benefits

of Organic Food

Recognise

Organic Food (EU Leaf)

Range of

Irish Organic Produce

Watch
the campaign

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5 Reasons to
Buy Organic Food

Health

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Nutrition

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Taste

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Free from

GMOs

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More

Sustainable

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FAQs

Organic food is produced using organic production methods based on the organic principles of health, ecology, fairness and care. These are defined and measured by the organic standards covering the entire organic supply chain and are protected by EU law. The words ‘organic’ (or ‘bio’, ‘eco’, or ‘eko’) can only appear a product if complies with the EU organic rules.

Organic production methods are a system of farming and manufacturing which actively seeks to care for people and the planet. Organic production methods aim to produce high-quality products sustainably right across the supply chain, from care for the land, plants and animals, to careful and minimal manufacturing of organic products, to the distribution and retail to you the consumer.

If the EU organic logo (EU Green Leaf) is on a product then you can be guaranteed it has been certified organic whether in Ireland or the rest of the EU to the legally defined rules. National organic certification marks, such as the Irish Organic Association, used alongside the EU organic logo show that the product has fulfilled the Organic Food and Farming Standards in Ireland.

In Ireland and other EU countries all organic operators, from farmers and processers to traders and retailers must be inspected to ensure that they are meeting the organic standards. Inspections are conducted annually by official organic control bodies, such as the Irish Organic Association, both announced and unannounced. So if you see the EU organic logo you can be certain it is organic.

No. Organic farm and land management is designed to work with natural processes and cycles, meaning that synthetic and pesticides are not used. Instead, farmers use natural methods such as crop rotation, crop selection, and organic manures and compost to support good soil health and crop production. Weed killers are not permitted and where pest control is applied it must be of natural origin and used as a last resort.

Yes. All livestock on an organic farm must comply with the organic rules for raising organic livestock, meaning no synthetic fertilisers and pesticides can be used to produce feed. All feed must be GMO-free. All animal diets therefore must contain 100% organic feed, whether that is the grass or other forage consumed by organic cattle and sheep or the grain consumed by organic pigs and poultry.

Organic livestock must be raised to the highest welfare standards in conditions designed to suit their natural behaviour. For example, organic livestock must have access to pasture and bedded housing when inside from the elements in the winter. As well as ensuring that animals are genuinely free to range, with lower stocking densities, routine use of preventative antibiotics is banned and a greater focus is placed on preventative health management.

The routine use of antibiotics and medicines in organic farming is prohibited, with farmers required to draw up a farm health management plan every year to mitigate disease risks. Organic livestock are only treated with antibiotics as necessary when no other treatment option is available. Organic health management in the first instance relies on prevention rather than cure. Where medical treatment, including antibiotics, is needed to ensure animal health and prevent suffering, it must be administered based on veterinary guidance and authorisation.

There are strict standards involved in the processing of organic products with the use of additives, processing aids and techniques limited and no ingredient based on GMOs permitted. The emphasis of an organic food product should be on its own taste and nutritional value. For example, no artificial colours, flavours or enhancers are permitted. Irradiation as a means of extending shelf life and nanotechnology to manipulate the colour, odour, fluidity or texture of products are also not permitted.

Organic products may often have more nutritional value, many more antioxidants, and fewer synthetic pesticide residues than non-organic products. However, health is considered in the much wider context of organic food and farming systems. This includes the health of the land, the soil, the plant, the animals and the farmers and farm workers themselves. Organic can therefore have positive personal health benefits. At the same time, individual personal health is influenced by many factors such as diet and nutrition, lifestyle, exercise and (hereditary) diseases.

Organic farmers seek to work in the most environmentally friendly and holistic way possible. This includes enhancing nature both above and below the ground, from the promotion of more flora and fauna and crop diversity to building and maintaining healthy and biologically active soils. For example, the prohibition of manufactured synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, not only supports more biodiversity but also creates beneficial conditions for protecting our soils and waterways from nutrient pollution and persistent pollutants.

Organic farming is less input-intensive and more energy-efficient and therefore tends to emit fewer greenhouse gases. For example, organic farms do not use synthetic fertilisers and have lower stocking densities, both of which are major contributors to nitrous oxide and methane.  Instead, organic farmers work with natural processes and the capacity of their farmland, relying on clover-rich swards as well as recycled organic farmyard manure to build and maintain soil fertility and plant health. Organic farming practices are also known to lock up more carbon in the soil which helps to slow down climate change.

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