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As Organic September kicks off, the Soil Association is encouraging individuals and businesses to join the organic movement to improve our health, support local farmers and establish a more sustainable food system for the future.
Organic September is a month-long celebration of organic farming, food, drink, beauty products and clothes. While awareness around the organic sector has grown over the years, there’s still more to be done, particularly in the face of climate change, diet-related illnesses and a drastic decline in wildlife. When it comes to our food systems, Organic September is the perfect opportunity to shed light on the ways our choices can minimise our impact on the planet.
This month, the Soil Association, which is behind the annual movement, is eager to show people how they can do their part by learning more about the organic and archaeological ways of producing food, sharing this knowledge with others, and supporting organic farmers in local communities.
What is organic?
The organic farming system takes a holistic approach, where farmers consider the entire food system, from soil and farm animals to the health of people, nature and the planet. By choosing organic produce and farming methods, we can support wildlife, help to combat climate change, support high animal welfare, reduce people’s exposure to pesticides, and enjoy better-tasting products.
Organic farms have been proven to offer havens for wildlife and homes for butterflies, birds and bees. In fact, on average, plant, insect and bird life is 50% more abundant on organic farms.
Helping to combat climate change, organic methods also see farms use less energy than their non-organic counterparts, while adopting nature-friendly farming techniques and systems could help keep global warming below 2°C.
With customer demand increasing, the market value of the organic sector is also rising. The Soil Association projected a £2.5 billion market value of the organic sector by the end of 2020. But that number is now set to hit the £2.6 billion mark, thanks to a shift in consumer behaviour following the pandemic.
According to a YouGov survey commissioned by the Food Farming and Countryside Commission & The Food Foundation, 42% of people feel that the coronavirus crisis has made them value food more. Meanwhile, data from Nielsen showed that organic sales in supermarkets have seen the highest growth since December 2016. Organic food and drink sales have experienced a year-on-year growth of 6.1%, and an 18.7% increase in organic sales in the 12 weeks ending 30th May, 2020, compared to a 14.2% increase in non-organic food and drink.
Given the impact of coronavirus on consumer behaviour and trends, this year’s Organic September could be bigger and better than ever, with a greater awareness around the importance of our food systems, and an increase in people looking to make healthier and more sustainable choices. With research suggesting that people don’t want things to return to how they were pre-COVID-19, now could be the time for organic to take the spotlight.
Speaking about this year’s campaign, Louisa Pharoah of the Soil Association said: “Organic September is a brilliant opportunity for us to talk to people about the Soil Association and all the work we are doing to restore nature, health and a safe climate. Organic farming is a whole system approach that nurtures the soil, biodiversity and our planet. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant more people appreciate where food comes from, and with the increased interest in growing veg in our gardens and home baking, there’s never been a better time to talk to people about the benefits of organic farming.”
So what can you do to support the Organic September movement? To help individuals and businesses, the charity has put together 30 Ways to Join the Organic Movement, which features a list of small things to try each day that together will have a big impact. Retailers can also find free marketing material on the Soil Association’s website, which may help to frame messaging around organic products that you sell in-store, while spreading awareness about organic on your social media platforms. Organic food businesses wanting to get involved in the campaign can also find out more here.
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