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Organic food

In theory, food produced in a completely natural manner, without the addition of chemical fertilisers or suchlike. In practice, these laws vary from country to country, and even between "organic societies" within countries; although in the European Union it is a legally-defined term, regulated by approved agencies - and basic standards are consistent. See Organic Food Agencies, and their Codes:

An "organic farm" must gain this status by going through a two year conversion period, during which the use of any chemical fertiliser or pesticide is banned. Once converted, the farm must promise to remain free from such chemicals and ensure that animals are fed with organic feed. Farmers must also promise that animals are kept and slaughtered in a humane manner.

The ultimate organic farm runs on a "closed cycle", which means the fields are fertilised using manure from the farm"s livestock, which are in turn fed with feed grown on the farm - so the cycle continues.

Organic food sold in Britain must display an agency code.

Now so much money has become involved in producing food in this manner, its source is more important than ever. For example, at the time of writing, the British Soil Association (a very honourable and ground-breaking organisation) allow organic chickens to be fed up to 20% non-organic foodstuffs, and still be labelled as "organic" and approved by them. Volume producers and other producers wishing to sell their products at a premium price are quick to exploit these loopholes.

Many small producers follow their own 100% organic principles.

When buying pre-prepared meals (perhaps in a supermarket) always read the small print, showing the precise list of ingredients. Organic potato might have been made from rehydrated flaked potato - which in taste-terms, might not be worth a premium price.

Likewise, water might form a major percentage of the product, and come straight from the local main supply!

In the UK, The Soil Association is the best known agency, and certifies about 70% of all the organic food produced in the UK, but 70% of all organic food sold in this country is imported.

If GM foods are grown commercially in Britain, the growing of certain organic foods might become impossible. See 'Box Schemes'; 'Farmers Markets'; 'Organic Food Agencies';

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