What is Organic?
Ever wondered what ‘organic’ really means? Find it out today!
Hey everyone! The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that La Española proudly introduced two new products to its range recently: the delectable Gourmet Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the delicious Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Both the Gourmet and the Organic olive oils have made quite a splash, but one in particular has raised a few questions. Namely, what exactly is meant by the term ‘organic’ in olive oil, and why is it important enough to sit centre-stage on our bottles?
Well, that’s what we’re here to discover!
What does Organic mean?
A swift Google search will tell you that organic items are ‘produced without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals’. That seems simple enough, but what does it mean for the organic products you buy?
According to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, businesses “can only label pre-packed foods ‘organic’ if at least 95% of the ingredients of agricultural origin are organic”. Looking at these two extracts together, you can see that products shown as organic can be trusted to be grown, farmed or produced by means that lessen the impact on the natural environment.
The Soil Association, a UK charity and certifier of organic produce, takes a wider view on the definition of organic, considering what organic means as a process. Their website states that “Organic is a system of farming and food production. Organic farmers aim to produce high-quality food, using methods that benefit our whole food system, from people to planet, plant health to animal welfare.”
With that basic understanding in place, let’s look a little closer at some of those meanings in practice…
What does Organic look like?
The positive impact of organic systems of production can be shown the the following key areas:
1. High standards in animal welfare
For many people, animal welfare is one of the most important parts of choosing organic produce, and it plays a large part in organic regulation too. Under organic regulations, every aspect of welfare is considered, from what the animals eat to where they live, to how they are transported. By organic standards, animals must be wholly free-range. This means that the animals are provided with plenty of space and fresh air, and raised in conditions that permit behaviours which align to their natural behaviour. Practices inducing undue painful or stress are strictly prohibited.
2. Zero artificial fertilisers
Soil quality is a growing concern, especially with many crops receiving artificial fertilisers in order to produce enough yield to meet demand. Organic farming avoids the use of synthetic fertilisers, as the principles of organic farming are based on natural nourishment. This is done by nurturing the soil and building rich and fertile soils by natural means, such as using clover and legumes to control nitrogen levels. Other methods include composting or intelligent crop rotation to maintain healthy, nutrient-rich soils.
3. Far fewer pesticides
Pesticides (including herbicides and fungicides) are chemicals designed to protect crops by killing pests, fungal diseases and weeds. While this may help achieve maximum yield, the wider impact on biodiversity is enough to prevent organic status for that crop. Under many organic regulations, and only under very restricted circumstances, farmers are permitted to employ a select number of naturally-derived pesticides as a last resort. Instead, organic farmers are encouraged to establish a natural balance between plants and animals.
4. No routine antibiotics
Agriculture is rife with routine and preventative use of medication, such as antibiotics. In the UK, around a third of all antibiotics used are used preventatively in agriculture. However, organic farming prohibits the use of antibiotics in this way. If animals are farmed in hygienic environments, fed healthy diets and housed in spacious conditions, farmers will not be dependent upon antibiotics. This is vital in protecting ourselves from future disease, as the more sparingly we use our antibiotics now, the more effective they will remain.
5. Zero Genetic Modification (GM)
The use of additives and processing helpers, whether for colour or flavour, is heavily restricted by organic standards, and organic regulations especially prohibit the use of ingredients that are deemed toxic. In addition, organic foods cannot contain preservatives such as hydrogenated fats, also known as trans fatty acids or trans fats. Fortunately for La Española, we are very proud of the beautiful golden colours afforded by our traditional methods of harvesting, pressing and milling
6. No artificial colours and preservatives
The use of additives and processing helpers, whether for colour or flavour, is heavily restricted by organic standards, and organic regulations especially prohibit the use of ingredients that are deemed toxic. In addition, organic foods cannot contain preservatives such as hydrogenated fats, also known as trans fatty acids or trans fats. Fortunately for La Española, we are very proud of the beautiful golden colours afforded by our traditional methods of harvesting, pressing and milling.
Does organic mean natural?
Yes, sort of, but not quite. ‘Organic’ is a legally protected term whereas ‘natural’ is not. Much like ‘Scotch Whisky’ or ‘Extra Virgin’, the term ‘Organic’ is defined and protected by law, coming with (as we saw earlier) very specific definitions and limitations. In order to use these terms, organisations must meet strict requirements, from production to handling, marketing and more. This means that when you see organic certified products on the shelf, you can trust that they are better for us, better for livestock and wildlife, and better for the natural world.
La Española’s organic olive oil
Every part of the process for crafting La Española Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is certified as 100% organic, and from tree to table is completely free from pesticides and preservatives. In prioritising fresh ingredients throughout the whole journey, we proudly preserve the oil’s intense natural characters.
For La Española Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, our accreditation has been awarded by the CAAE, an international certification body with a global focus for a more organic world. We are delighted to have received organic certification on our Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and are proud to be continuing our efforts to promote a sustainable world.