Organics is a very hot topic at the moment, as attendance at a
National Conference of
the Soil Association testified. There were over 400 delegates with hugely diverse
interests, everything from specialist celery growers to government ministers.
Its the health-related aspects of organic
products that are of most interest to me. Are we all in danger of being swept away on a
tide of marketeering, hyperbole and bandwaggoning?
misunderstand me. I am totally in favour of
organic agriculture and avidly support environmentally sustainable methods.
concerns are with the increasing misconception that because something is organic, ergo it
simply is not the case. The Soil Associations organic symbol reassures us that
ingredients in a product have been grown by organically approved methods. It does not, however, magically transform
chocolate cream gateaux, high fat cheeses, frozen pepperoni pizza, sugar filled fizzy
drinks, baby food or
pre-cooked meals into a more healthy food than their non-organic equivalent.
Organically grown refined sugar, for example, although
definitely better for the health of the soil in which it is grown, is not any better for
Processed and refined products, high in fats and salt, may have had their basic
ingredients carefully sourced from organic producers which is great for them, not
necessarily good for us.
But what about the chemicals? I hear
you ask. It is wonderful that we now have a greater range of vegetables and fruits
available without any extra chemical toxins, but freshness is still important . If your organic apple was grown in California
months ago, kept in a cold storage unit and flown round the world to a supermarket packing
station, is it really better for you? Its true that it started
and our environment has benefited from its clean growing methods (if not the
transportation methods), but nutritionally the jury has still not returned a verdict!
whole food is still the way to health.
The original aim of Eve Balfour, one of the founders of the
Soil Association, was health for people through health for the soil. With newly launched products like aluminium cans
of sugar-filled lemonade bearing the organic symbol, it looks like a losing battle. When it comes to good healthy eating, amongst all
the confusion and marketing
hype, the simple truth remains just that - simple. Loads of fresh vegetables and fruits;
plenty of complex carbohydrates in the form of grains, beans and wholemeal breads and
pasta; low fats, gained from plant origin; minimal refined, processed and animal derived
This is a shortened version of a feature published in
Centrepiece, the newsletter of the
Bristol Cancer Help Centre.
The Centre is holding a series of seminars on Living with Cancer in June and
July. For details, ring 0117 925 7100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org