What is organic and why should you make the switch?

by Echo Store on June 04, 2021

The organic boom started over a decade ago. Climate change, diet-related illnesses, shrinking biodiversity, and ultimately, COVID-19 – all of these prompt us to seek healthier alternatives. But with this shift comes confusion and misinformation. Does organic mean fresh? It is just for vegetables? What does “organic” really mean?

What is Organic Farming?

Marco Schlüter, Head of Strategy and International affairs of international farmer association Naturland, defines organic foods as products that are grown and processed through holistic practices that sustain the soils, ecosystems, and people. Global standards in organic farming generally promote the following:

  • Natural fertilizers like compost and manure instead of synthetic or chemical fertilizers
  • Natural weed killers (i.e. crop rotation, hand-weeding, or mulching) and naturally-derived herbicides (i.e citronella, clove oil, lemongrass oil). This is why some organic vegetables have a few holes. Those perfect-looking vegetables with no holes are telltale signs of chemical herbicides and pesticides. 
  • Natural balance between plants and animals. Instead of toxic pesticides, farmers rely on birds and insects like beetles, ladybugs that prey on other insects. 
  • Healthy living conditions for livestock. Animals should have clean housing, access to the outdoors, and should not be given antibiotics.
  • Organic, hormone- and GMO-free food for livestock
organic farming

Organic means certified

For a product to be labeled as organic, it has to be certified. Naturland’s standards, which is one of the leading organic standards in the world, ensure that the minimum level of organic agricultural production is met. Not only the farmers but also the packers, food processors, and retailers should follow these standards to guarantee clean and safe food.

In the Philippines, ECHOstore is the first shop to be granted a Naturland certification. Certified organic products include Alter Trade’s Mascobado Sugar and Peter Paul's Organic Virgin Coconut Oil.


Benefits of organic farming 

Organic food is clean, safe, and fair food. Some studies also say that organic foods may contain more nutrients.

But organic farming doesn’t just benefit consumers. It’s also good for farmers and producers. For one, they are trained to work at a higher standard. They are also less exposed to harmful pesticides and herbicides. And with higher demand from discerning buyers who recognize the value of organic food, organic farmers can count on a stable income.

Organic farming practices also help the environment. It reduces pollution, conserves water, ensures soil health, and uses less energy. 

Indeed, organic food is not cheap. But that’s because it’s not mass-produced and bombarded with chemicals. And when you consider all the benefits, you’ll see that it’s worth your hard-earned peso.


How to switch to organic

So… how do you make the transition?

  1. Educate yourself. A simple Google search will lead you to thousands of informative materials on organic farming and organic food. 
  1. Look for organic sources near you. It’s best to buy from your local farmers’ market but you can also shop from supermarkets. And while you’re at it, you can ask your local grocers to carry more organic products.
  2. Check the label. When shopping at supermarkets, look for certifications from reliable organizations like Naturland and OCCP. And read food labels carefully.
shopping for vegetables

Now’s a great time to make healthier and informed choices. It may take some getting used to but organic food is here to stay and it makes a world of difference for you, your community, and the environment.