What should everyone know about food safety

What you need to know about organic food

Table of Contents

  1. What does organic actually mean?
  2. Why are organic products more expensive?
  3. Which organic seals are there and what do they stand for?
  4. Are organic foods less polluted?
  5. Are organic products from the discounter worse?
  6. Which is better: organic or regional?
  7. Is organic meat really from happier animals?
  8. Are organic products healthier?
  9. Does organic food spoil faster?
  10. Would it even be possible for everyone to eat organically?
  11. Knowledge to take away

The following article is from the third 2018 edition of our magazine. Here we have a small excerpt for you that we do not want to withhold from you. Would you like to be informed even earlier in the future? Then we recommend that you subscribe to our EatSmarter! Magazine.

How good is organic really? The organic debate is going on everywhere today. In the media, in private, in line at the supermarket checkout. “Organic is simply better!” You hear again and again. Customers buy organic food and products in the hope of eating healthier and doing good for the environment. But not everything that is said about organic products is correct.

We have put together 10 facts for you that you should know about organic and organic food.

1. What does organic actually mean?

The minimum requirements that must be met for a food to be called organic are stipulated by European Union laws: namely that it comes from ecologically controlled cultivation, has not been genetically modified and has been produced without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

Animals that provide milk, eggs or meat must be raised and kept in a species-appropriate manner - usually without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones.

In addition, organic products must not be irradiated with ionizing radiation and fewer food additives are permitted (namely only around 50 instead of over 300). Small downer: Organic food can contain up to five percent non-organically produced ingredients.

Organic food is food that comes from ecologically controlled cultivation and has been produced without the use of chemicals or fertilizers.

2. Why are organic products more expensive?

The costs and effort of organically produced food are higher. If, for example, no chemicals are used to kill weeds, this has to be weeded by hand. At the same time, the yields per hectare of land are lower if the arable land is cultivated sustainably. Instead of using artificial fertilizers, ecological land is naturally reprocessed - for example through a crop rotation that improves the soil.

Organic meat, milk and eggs are more expensive because the animals have more space and can live longer before slaughter. Instead of breeds bred for high performance and fast meat set, robust animals are kept that are less susceptible to disease.

However, seasonal fruit and vegetables from the region are also inexpensive in organic quality. If you buy something here and ignore exotic products from overseas, you will not only save your wallet, but will also be rewarded with food of the best quality.

Since the cost and effort of organically produced food is higher, it is automatically more expensive. You can also get seasonal fruit and vegetables cheaply in organic quality.

3. Which organic seals are there and what do they stand for?

Not all organic seals are created equal. The best known, the EU organic seal, can be found on almost all organic products. One criterion: 95 percent of the ingredients from agricultural production must come from organic farming. It's not 100 percent organic. So it happens that especially the cheap organic products from the discounter are often only equipped with this one seal.

If you want more, you usually have to spend more. It is stricter, for example, with seals such as Bioland, Naturland or Demeter. The ecological standards sometimes go far beyond the guidelines stipulated by the EC organic regulation.

An example: the EC ecological regulation allows around 45 additives in products that it has awarded. Bioland limited to 22, Demeter even to only 20 additives.

These ecological cultivation associations sometimes have far stricter rules than the law stipulates. Here is an overview of the most important seals:

EU ORGANIC LOGO: This seal indicates that the minimum legal requirements for packaged organic products under EU law have been met.

GERMAN ORGANIC SEAL: It was in effect in Germany before the EU organic label was introduced in 2010. Today it can only be used in addition to this.

BIOLAND: A closed operating cycle, conservation of the soil, own feed and homeopathy instead of antibiotics characterize Bioland.

NATURAL LAND: Naturland has farms in 46 countries, including outside the EU. Animal welfare, sustainability and human rights are strictly regulated.

DEMETER: The farm as a cycle - this is how Demeter companies work. Fewer additives are used than permitted by law.

In order for food to receive an organic seal, 95 percent of the ingredients must come from organic farming.

You can find more information in this article: "What the organic seals say".

4. Are organic foods less polluted?

Studies by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) show that organic fruit and vegetables have significantly fewer residues from synthetic chemical pesticides than conventional goods. In the case of perishable varieties such as berries or grapes, it is common practice to use chemicals to artificially extend the shelf life.

The peels of citrus fruits, for example, are almost always sprayed unless they are labeled as untreated. In the case of organic products, however, the use of such sprays is not permitted.

You should therefore choose organic quality for the “dirty dozen” of the most heavily contaminated foods with pesticides: These include strawberries, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes and vegetables with spinach, celery, tomatoes, peppers and vegetables Potatoes.

Organic food has significantly fewer pollutants than conventional products. The use of sprays is not allowed here.

5. Are organic products from the discounter worse?

If it says organic, it's also organic - this also applies to discounters, because EU legislation also applies to organic own brands in food retailing. That means: Everything that bears an organic seal in the discounter meets the minimum legal requirements.

However, those who value even stricter rules, for example when raising and keeping animals, are better off with products from organic farming associations, as they often go far beyond the minimum.

The ecological cultivation associations include Demeter and Bioland. However, these products also cost more and are therefore more likely to be offered in organic shops, weekly markets or in supermarkets with a large assortment.

All products that have an organic seal also meet the requirements. However, if you place more value on animal rearing and husbandry, you should use products from organic farming associations.

6. Which is better: organic or regional?

Regional does not automatically mean that a product is sustainable. Conventional local eggs likely come from a large farm, local vegetables may have been treated with pesticides. This is not possible with organic food. At the same time, many organic retailers care about working with regional producers.

Organic farming also has a more positive effect on the environment than conventional farming. Organic cultivation even has positive effects such as lower losses and acidification of the soil, promotion of biodiversity and protection of groundwater and bodies of water.

Organic cattle live longer and cause a higher CO2 release per animal, but since considerably fewer animals are kept per area, the total emissions are lower. Those who buy seasonally at the same time receive less polluted, more sustainable products from organic farming.

Regional is not always sustainable. But those who buy organic get less polluted, more sustainable products from organic farming.

7. Is organic meat really from happier animals?

There are also small and large farms with organic rearing, but no factory farming. If an organic farmer keeps 3,000 chickens, for example, he has an almost tiny population compared to conventional systems that can hold over 200,000 chickens. The species-appropriate husbandry with adequate space for each animal, including free movement, as is legally required for organic farms, is so easy to implement - species-specific needs can be lived out.

The feed must also come from organic farming, preferably from our own farm. The preventive use of antibiotics, on the other hand, is forbidden; treatment is only given when animals are really sick.

Incidentally, the ecological cultivation associations go beyond the legal requirements in order to enable their animals to have a good life.

Yes, it is! With organic rearing there is no factory farming. The animals are kept in a species-appropriate manner and with sufficient space and are fed with organic feed. The use of antibiotics is also strictly prohibited.

8. Are organic products healthier?

The nutritional content of fruit and vegetables depends on many factors, such as weather, incidence of light, air and soil quality. What is healthier here with the organic version is, above all, the lack of chemical-synthetic pesticides - with about the same nutrient content on average.

Organic meat, milk and eggs also have an advantage: There are no additional hormones or antibiotics in them.

Thanks to species-appropriate feeding, for example with fresh grass and more exercise, products from organic animals also contain other fatty acids - namely more health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids.

Organic foods are healthier because they contain no chemical pesticides, additional hormones, or antibiotics.

9. Does organic food spoil faster?

Because organic fruits and vegetables are not treated with waxes and pesticides, they can go bad faster than conventionally grown produce.

Other organic products such as sausage, delicatessen salads, pasta or canned food can also have a shorter shelf life because they do not use preservatives.

It is best to shop more often and eat the food fresh and as soon as possible to avoid unpleasant surprises from expired food.

Since no preservatives or the like are used, organic foods have a shorter shelf life.

10. Would it even be possible for everyone to eat organically?

The World Agricultural Report stated that in order to combat world hunger it is not crucial to produce significantly more food, but to achieve better local availability.

Food has to be produced, processed and distributed where it is needed - using ecological and small-scale farming methods. This is the only way to sustainably supply all people in the long term.

So it is not significant that organic farming produces slightly lower yields than conventional farming. On the contrary: regional, sustainable cultivation concepts should be the future.

Production does not have to be increased, but above all a better availability of food on site has to be created in order to achieve this goal.

Knowledge to take away

Whether or not you buy organic food is up to you. To say that only organic food is healthy food is not true. Because this is also not healthy if you do not eat a balanced diet.

Eat a balanced diet and eat in moderation. Because three bars of chocolate a day, even if it is organic, is definitely not healthy. Only then can you grapple with the question of whether or not you want to buy food with chemical residues.

You can buy the best organic food fresh from the farm at the weekly market or in the health food store. There you will mainly find products from cultivation associations such as Demeter or Bioland. These adhere to even stricter guidelines than those of the EC organic regulation. But well-run supermarkets also offer organic products that are marked with the EG-ÖKO seal.

One thing is clear: Organic is good for you - and also for the environment. Organic farmers do not use fertilizers that contain nitrate and therefore do not pollute the groundwater. Because chemical pesticides etc. are only used to a very limited extent, these products have a more positive ecological balance.