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Restoration through an organic revolution

Clare McDermott, business development director at Soil Association Certification, believes choosing organic is a form of direct action
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

This article first appeared in our Restoration Revolution issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 06 Sept 2019. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Eating and growing organic has been something of a revolutionary act for over 70 years – but recently, it feels like the momentum to save the planet has become unstoppable.

Brilliant campaigners, like Greta Thunberg, David Attenborough and Extinction Rebellion, have been joined by thousands of global citizens, many of them schoolchildren, to demand real and radical change from politicians, businesses and each other.

The accompanying narrative is also changing, with an acknowledgement that action is needed urgently. Indeed, The Guardian has even changed its editorial guidelines: ‘climate change’ now reads ‘climate crisis’.

Food and farming will play a huge role in how – and if – we ever manage to tackle the crisis. Our government’s world-leading commitment to hit net zero by 2050 is commendable, but we need to make sure this is part of a larger ambition – and not score own goals by pursuing net zero at the cost of all else.

The role of organic farming

As well as reducing emissions, we must also restore our environment. We need to support a way of farming that will return insects, pollinators and birds to our countryside, increase soil health and produce healthy, nutritious food that everyone can enjoy.

Organic food and farming can do all that. Recent research by the French think tank IDDRI shows that if all of Europe were organic, everyone could eat a plentiful, healthy diet – even with a growing population – while supporting a way of farming that helps to restore nature and reduce emissions.

This wouldn’t be without what some might see as difficult choices and lifestyle changes; the IDDRI model only works if we all change our diets.

Animals and soil health

Crucially, we need to eat less meat – but this doesn’t mean we should stop eating meat all together. Pasture-fed animals like cows and sheep have a critical role to play in sustainable ‘closed-loop’ farming because of the way they recycle nutrients into the earth through their manure, building soil health and fertility without chemical fertilisers.

What we can all do with less of, though, is intensively farmed meat. Keeping animals in overcrowded conditions where disease can spread has led to the overuse of antibiotics.

Fed on imported soy and grain, intensive production has contributed to deforestation in other parts of the world. The mantra of eating less, but better, meat is one that needs to be taken to heart if our diets are going to help, not hinder, the fight against climate change.

Organic September

Organic September, the annual month-long celebration of sustainable food and farming, will show how easy it is for all of us to make a positive change in the world through the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the beauty products we use.

Simply choosing organic whenever you can is a powerful form of direct action. Organic farmers work with nature to produce nutritionally different food, farm animals are always free range and routine use of antibiotics is avoided. Organic food is also free from controversial additives and GM.

Supporting change

Help support the organic movement by visiting an independent organic retailer or buying organic milk at the local supermarket. By choosing organic you are helping to improve the food system and supporting a wider movement of change, which is now right at the heart of real, workable, proven solutions to the biggest crisis facing all of us – now and in the future.

During Organic September, events will be taking place up and down the country in stores and online; new products will be launched and there will be lots of fresh, in-season products to try.

An Organic Discovery Guide will help food lovers discover more about organic, with myth busters to sort the facts from the fiction, hints and tips for going organic, recipes, competitions and more.

Don’t forget to show some love to your local independent retailer on Organic September Saturday, on 14 September. If everyone switched one product to organic, it would make a huge difference.

Click here to find out more about Organic September and how you can get involved.

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