Why Organic?  

Riverford has been farming organically since 1987.  There have always been plenty of sceptics out there who think organic is a load of hippy nonsense and just an excuse to charge more for food.  

At Riverford we think farming organically and eating organic food is simple common sense.  Here are 5 good reasons why. 

  1.  It’s better for the environment At the heart of organic farming is the principle of working with nature, rather than trying to suppress and overcome it.  Organic farming uses no artificial weedkillers or fertilisers and very limited pesticides.  Agriculture plays a major part in climate change.  If all the farmland in the UK was farmed organically, we could save 64m tonnes of carbon over 20 years – equivalent to taking nearly a million cars off the road.  Pesticides don’t just kill the target pest, they affect other wildlife too.  For example, ten of our 25 bumblebee species are either threatened or already extinct. There is 50% more wildlife on organic farms.  Organic farming protects water systems.  Farming organically improves the fertility and structure of the soil.  

  2. It’s better for the farmers. Choosing organic supports farmers and farm workers. The founder of Riverford, Guy Watson-Singh, first started farming organically because when he and his siblings helped on the family farm in the 70s and 80s, they would suffer side effects from the chemicals used on the farm. Many of the chemicals they were handling then are banned now.  How many of the chemicals that are still officially safe now, will in the future be found to be dangerous? Organic farms are often small, family-run businesses, not giant industrial-scale farms.

  3. It’s better for animals Many people choose to buy free range with the best intentions, not realising that it’s actually second best for animal welfare. Only buying organic guarantees you the highest standard of animal welfare. Paying that little bit extra allows organic farmers to go above and beyond any other farming system, giving the animals as natural and happy a life as possible. Using chickens as an example, here are some of the ways that organic goes further than free range:  Beak-trimming is common in free range farms but forbidden in organic. 50% more free range hens can be packed into the same amount of space. Organic flocks can be no larger than 2000 birds, and are often as low as 500. Free range flocks can be any size and often contain many thousands of birds. Organic chickens must have free access to clean, regularly rested pasture. Many ‘free range’ birds actually spend little time outside, because the pasture is bare, muddy and parasite ridden, and because there aren’t enough exits from the henhouses. Free range hens can be given GM feeds and antibiotics. Like all organic animals, organic chickens eat a natural, varied diet, much of which is foraged from their pasture.

  4.  It’s better for you and your family. When a crop is sprayed with a pesticide on a conventional farm, the chemicals don’t just stay on the skin of the fruit or veg, they are picked up by the roots of the plant and so they are in the whole vegetable.  You can’t get rid of them by washing or peeling. Recent research is showing that crops grown organically contain up to 60% more antioxidants than conventionally grown plants.  The researchers think this could be because the organic plants naturally produce the antioxidants in order to combat pests. The research shows that eating organic fruit and veg could be equivalent to eating one or two extra portions of veg a day.

  5.  It tastes better! Organic veg are grown for flavour, not for yield.  Varieties are chosen because they taste good, rather than because they will produce uniform veg that will last for weeks.  Because they are organic, our veg don’t last as long as conventionally grown veg.  So we have to pick them, pack them and deliver them to you quickly.  They are super fresh.  You can taste that!

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