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A new report which shows that organic milk is higher in beneficial nutrients and fatty acids has been launched by scientists at Newcastle University. It comes in a long line of research proving the benefits of buying organic milk.

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The paper not only shows why there is a difference in the nutritional quality of organic and non-organic milk, but also identifies the importance of feeding at least 60% grass or conserved grass to organic cows, as required by organic standards.

The research emphasises the huge importance of allowing cattle to graze outdoors and to eat a natural diet high in grass. This means organic cows do not depend on high levels of grain and proteins such as soya.

Emma Hockridge, Soil Association head of policy who are in support of the report, comments: “This ground-breaking research proves for the first time that people buying organic milk will benefit from the higher levels of beneficial fatty acids in organic milk throughout the whole year. It shows the clear link between healthy soil, healthy animals and healthy people and is another warning flag against the proposed 3,770 cow, mega dairy at Nocton in Lincolnshire.”

July 2010 will see the birth of a new EU wide organic logo. A logo that is easily recognisable across the continent that identifies as well as promotes organic produce.

Organic farming made easy to recognise
Organic farming made easy to recognise

The logo will be the creation of a successful EU student who entered a design competition launched by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development. The new logo will be obligatory for all pre-packaged organic products coming form the 27 member states and meet the labelling standards.

“Through this online vote, the European Commission wants to ensure that the new logo appeals to as many people as possible. At the same time, this open selection process contributes to the bigger objective of making people aware of the importance of the organic farming sector,” said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

The new logo was brief to represent the EU both inside and outside its borders. It should be easy to remember and to associate with the EU and organic farming without using any words or letters.

A total of 3,422 future designers submitted their innovative proposals. After the competition closed, an internationally renowned jury took the competition to the next stage by selecting the final three logos.

You can have your say in which logo we see later in the year by casting you vote here.

Last night we were invited to the Food For Life Partnership awards down south. It took place at an organic farm called Sheepdrove. As we live in the wilds of Northumberland we were unfortunately unable to attend, but we’ve caught up with all of the gossip this morning.

Winners!
Winners!

A firm favourite of ours, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, presented Silver and Gold awards to schools that are simply outstanding when it comes to making changes to their food culture.

We’re big supports of this campaign – we wrote about it last month (click here to take a peek!). It’s a massive task for schools to make the move to set up organic school gardens, cooking clubs or make other vital changes to the way their grow and consume food – so when changes are made awards are rightly given out. We’re ever so pleased that there are already 1,500 Food for Life Partnership schools making changes across the country

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said:

What makes this project so inspiring is the way that young people in more than a thousand schools are now learning about real food in a hands-on way, growing and cooking it themselves and even rearing their own chickens! I would urge the Government to do more to encourage all schools to follow their lead.

All Silver and Gold Food for Life Partnership schools only serve free range or organic chicken and Hugh spent the morning with progressive Food for Life caterers discussing how to make the aims of Hugh’s ‘Chicken Out!’ campaign happen in school meal catering and give thousands more young people the chance to eat high welfare chicken for lunch.

He said: “I’m delighted that the Food for Life Partnership is taking my ‘Chicken Out!’ campaign for higher welfare chicken into the world of school meals with such success, proving that young people really do care about where their food comes from.”

Emma Noble, Director of the Food for Life Partnership says: “I’m so proud to be celebrating these innovative schools, who have created a healthy, sustainable and enjoyable food culture within their schools and communities to the benefit of everybody involved.

“These schools show what real 21st century education is all about, which is using real life experiences to teach the curriculum and providing the next generation with solutions to what threatens their future, namely climate change and the obesity crisis. By empowering young people to make informed food choices and giving them the skills to grow and cook food for themselves and their families, Food for Life Partnership schools lead the way for a more sustainable future.”

A little bit more about the awards:

“Silver” schools now serve school meals on plates, not flight trays, and have a range of locally sourced and organic items on the menu. All chicken, bacon and sausages served are Freedom Food certified or free range and no fish from unsustainable sources is served. The Silver schools have cooking clubs, and pupils get to cook with and eat the produce grown in the school growing area. Parents and the wider community get involved in food education via food-themed events.

“Gold” schools are hubs of good food culture in their community, actively involving parents and community groups in cooking and growing activities. Their school meals are at least 75% freshly prepared, 50% local and 30% organic, and more than 70% of pupils are choosing to eat school meals. Every pupil in a Food for Life Partnership Gold school learns to cook, has the opportunity to grow food, and groups of pupils are actively involved in the life of a local farm.

When you buy organic, you want to make sure that that you’re making the right choice. This is why the Soil Association has proudly announced a new EU-wide, harmonised standard for organic health and beauty products.

 

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New organic standards come in to play

At a time when the organic health and beauty market is experiencing extremely significant growth – in 2008 UK sales of organic health and beauty products increased an impressive 69% to £27 million – it’s important that we are clear on what we’re buying.

Francis Blake, director of Soil Association standards said:

“This new harmonised standard is a real breakthrough for consumers and for the organic health and beauty industry and we hope it will be used as an international blue print. Application to use this standard is open to all certification bodies as of 30 Sept 2009.”

The new ‘COSMOS-standard’ is a result of six years work in collaboration with five other European organisations. It also covers the regulation of ‘natural’ cosmetics. The objective of this new standard is ambitious and goes beyond all current requirements for organic and natural cosmetics.

Current organic brands will have a 3-year transition period [up to September 2012] if they need to alter formulations and labelling. Any new organic brands will have to adhere to these new standards immediately. So watch out for new little labels on your products meaning your safe in the knowledge that they’re making your skin wonderfully gorgeous.

Why go organic?

Safety

For products to use the term ‘organic’ they need to be certified by the Soil Association or a similar organisation. The SA very careful with the products certified, and if there is any doubt about an ingredient it is banned – so no parabens, no phthalates and no GM ingredients. Meaning lovely skin all around!

Avoid irritation

Synthetic fragrances, which have been found to cause a third of all cosmetic allergies, are banned,

‘Cocktail effect’

You don’t need a lot. Cut down on the products that you and your family use. Much of the concern is about the ‘cocktail effect’ of chemicals in the different products that we use. Many women are using over 20 different products a day, bombarding themselves with hundreds of different chemicals.

Trust

Look for the Soil Association symbol on organic products to ensure that they meet strict organic standards.

No need to compromise

Delicious balms, gorgeous lotions and beautiful baby products are all widely available and perform so well that there is no need to compromise on performance to become an organic beauty.