Food FAQs

Organics Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q. What does “organic” actually mean?
A. Organics is the name given to a sustainable, socially and environmentally responsible system of agriculture and horticulture in which foods are grown and processed without the use of synthetic chemicals or fertilisers, with as strong emphasis on animal welfare, and land and water conservation and regeneration.

Q. Why don’t organic farmer’s use fertilisers and pesticides?
A. We do. We just don’t use synthetic fertilisers or pest control measures, as these types of chemicals (organophosphates and nitrates) present real problems in terms of harmful chemical residues[1]. There are many allowable “inputs” in a certified organic system that are used for increasing soil nutrition and quality and for controlling pests and diseases.

Q. What does “certified organic” mean?
A. Certification is a system in which organic producers enter into a contractual agreement with accreditedl2l organic certifiers to ensure the organic status of their products. To be certified, a producer/processor will be inspected once a year to ensure his operation complies with the organic standard from “paddock to plate”. The only way customers can be assured that they are purchasing
REAL ORGANIC products, produced without the use of synthetic chemicals and GMO’s is to purchase products that have been organically certified by an accredited certifier. ln many ways, the certification system is a strong basis for a quality assurance/food safety regime. As Gino Russo (Qld DPI) says, ” lf you are certified organic, you don’t need OliveOare.”

Q. Are organic foods better for you?
A. Yes. Although evidence about nutrition is not straight forward, recent data[3] shows that organic foods are higher in Vitamin C, trace elements and minerals and “phytonutrients”, which are cancer fighting antioxidants. ln a review of 41 studies from around the world, organic crops were shown to have statistically significant higher levels of vitamin C, magnesium, iron and phosphorous. Spinach, lettuce, cabbage and potatoes showed particularly high levels of minerals[4]. The good news is that organic foods also contain less moisture than conventional foods, meaning there is more “food” in organic food!

Q. Are chemical residues a real concern or just scare tactics?
A. Chemical residues are a real problem, with DDT residue being found in human breast milk and a 2001 Washington University study [5] showing children who eat non-organic foods having six times the residue of chemicals in their urine than children who ate predominately organic foods. British Government tests[6] have shown that some spinach contains pesticide residues that exceed the safety level for toddlers. Pesticide residues were also found in three-quarters of the dried fruit that was sampled, half of the bread, a third of the apples and celery, and a quarter of the chips from fish and chip shops. Even though cancer-causing chemicals such as lindane and DDT have been banned for decades, tests in 2000 showed that food still contains residues. DDT has been found in 670 % of feta cheese samples[7j.
ln Australia, the Victorian Government has recently completed a study in which 300 certified organic foods were tested for chemical residue. Victorian DPI researcher Ruth McGowan[B] found that of those 300 samples, only two tested positive for contaminants, both well under 50% of the maximum.

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