Currently, up to 60 percent. the disease of civilization is attributed to the wrong way of eating. For this reason, interest in safe and pollution-free products is growing. The answer to this search may be organic food.
Organic farming – how it started
The concept of an organic farm as a separate structure with a closed circulation of matter emerged as early as the first half of the 20th century. It was based on the assumption that feed and fertilizers should only come from their own production. This idea was supported by Rudolf Steiner, naturalist and philosopher, father of global organic farming. He encouraged listening to the rhythms of nature, drew attention to the benefits of plants, and promoted methods of cultivation that would not endanger the environment and animal welfare.
The system of farming in harmony with nature was a response to the growing threats and damage that the intensive development of conventional agriculture had caused. Protests against pollution and industrialisation have increasingly appeared in Western European countries. The society saw the potential in organic farming for the protection of nature and the health of humans and animals.
How is certified organic food produced?
Farmers and producers of organic food adhere to four basic principles: health, ecology, fairness and caring. This means that the basis of ecological management is to promote biodiversity, ensure soil fertility, preserve animal welfare and produce crops of high biological quality. In order to meet this, it is important to remember the use of Natural Methods and technologically unprocessed means of production of biological and mineral origin. Products and raw materials from such crops and farms are referred to as organic, organic or BIO Foods. All stages of the production of these products, from holding to distribution, are covered by an official control and certification system.
How to distinguish organic from conventional food
To properly identify healthy foods, you need to pay attention to several important features. First – the degree of processing. In organic products it is important to preserve the original nutritional value. The idea is to make the final product as natural as possible. Processing techniques used in conventional production, such as refining or preserving, cause the nutritional value of the product to be lost. There is limited use of food additives in organic processing. They are only used when there is a significant technological need or for specific nutritional purposes. Substances which could mislead as to the true nature of the product shall be completely excluded.
Secondly, the nutritional value, i.e. the content of vitamins and minerals. In apples, onions, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes and peppers from organic crops, the content of vitamins C and B is much higher than for fruits and vegetables from conventional crops. Organic food also has higher mineral content: iron in carrots, magnesium in blackcurrant, phosphorus in celery, potassium in spinach and calcium in Cherries. in addition, organic farming products contain about 30%. more antioxidants than conventional foods, this is worth remembering because of the health-promoting effect of a diet rich in ingredients containing bioactive compounds.
Third, organoleptic properties. Organic food is not just about health, it’s about taste and smell. The higher content of sugars, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and less water, have a very beneficial effect not only on taste, but also texture and aroma.These are properties that we value so much, even in the case of apples or tomatoes. But these are not all advantages. This makes decomposition processes slower and organic materials more durable and can be stored for longer.
Fourth, no toxins from chemical fertilisers and plant protection products. The use of chemical support for crops is avoided in the ecological system. As a result, the food contains much less nitrates and nitrites than, for example, conventionally grown potatoes. Unlike conventional production methods, organic farming is not intended to increase productivity and reduce the cost of food production. It is important to improve the quality of products and to remove the risk of contamination with harmful substances.
Effects of food and nutrition on the health of children and adults
Even small amounts of pesticide residues in food can have negative effects on the body, leading to allergies, diseases or a decline in immunity. Long-term effects of pesticides on the body m.in. cardiac arrhythmia, decreased fertility, birth defects or cancer.
- pregnant women, nursing mothers and children up to the age of 15 are particularly at risk because pesticides accumulate primarily in milk, brain, liver and fat. therefore, organic food should be preferred among this group of people and among the elderly.
- It is also recommended for people who are on an elimination diet (vegans and vegetarians), based mainly on plant materials, which can introduce excessive amounts of nitrates and nitrites into the body.
- While nitrates are not harmful to health, they easily convert into nitrites, which have negative health effects. Prevention, based on adequate dietary management, plays an important role. In order to reduce the risk of adverse health effects, it is important to consume wholesome products with the lowest concentration of pollutants, which contain all the necessary nutrients, i.e. organic food.
Organic farming and regulation
One of the pillars of the organic farming system is council regulation no 834/2007 of the European Community. As a basis for the operation of the organic farm, it points to the closure of the circulation with a restriction on the use of external measures. This document describes the main principles of organic food production.
With respect to soil cultivation, these are:
- deep soil loosening and shallow soil reversal,
- minimum number of journeys,
- use of crop rotation to control diseases, pests and weeds.
As regards animal husbandry and plant cultivation, it should be borne in mind that:
- avoid synthetic plant protection products, growth regulators,
- care for animal welfare – unrestricted access to the paddock, mulch breeding, access to
- fresh water, properly regulated light access,
- fertilisers, animals, propagating material came from their own farm resources (natural green fertilisers, compost),
- the cast of the animals depended on the land they owned (while adapting to their own capacity to produce mulch and feed)),
- in the nutrition of farmed animals, the active substances such as antibiotics and hormones are not used and the feed has come from their own holding (in cases where the animal’s life is at risk, conventional medicines are exceptionally permitted, with a grace period of twice as long as for conventional production),
- do not use GMOs and products derived therefrom (veterinary medicinal products are the exception)),
- do not subject food to ionising radiation,
- reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
- aim to produce high quality products.