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organic addict?
Food / Wine

Are you an organic victim?

By Joffre Agnes

Have you succumbed to the organic mania?

For a few years now, more and more people have started to eat organic, drink organic, use organic make-up, and even dress organic. France is currently succumbing and nobody can ignore it: organic is everywhere from supermarkets to magazine covers , from beauty shops to restaurants. More specifically, organic has been making the headlines for weeks and the mythical “Salon de l’Agriculture” is currently carving out a large space for organic farming. Their creed is “A generation of farming, produce today, feed tomorrow and respect always.” Where has this new passion come from? Until now,French people had been resisting the trend, as they always do. This traditional country had not rhymed its gastronomy with fleeting fancy. Food is quite a sacred thing (or should I say one of the most sacred things in France?) for these “bon vivants”. So, even though organic food was recognised early in the political sphere(1980) and though French organic label AB was one of the first one in the world to be created (1985), French people remained suspicious.


Organic mania
Organic mania

But still, in 2005, organic sales reached 1.5 Milliard of euros and have continued to increase. On average, organic sales in France have grow by 9.5 per cent each year since 1999. Organic magic is in action and its market is one of the most promissing ones. Even better, organic customers are not only more and more numerous, they are also loyal. Even the Credit Crunch has not been enough to stop the organic tornado in France. Strange as it may seem, the fall of purchasing power has not led to a fall in organic sales and yet these products are more expensive than others. Why? It is true that French people have converted to organic products but that doesn’t explain why the crisis has since reinforced this phenomenon. It seems that all the recent turbulences have made the French return to their roots, to the earth. Organic is reassuring in this perspective: natural, sane and simple. If only finance could be inspired…

British people are in a different situation. Organic is not a new fancy at all, the Brits converted a long time ago. Actually, you could almost say they invented it. The Brit Sir Albert Howard wrote “ An Agricultural Testament” in 1940 and was one of those who paved the way for organic farming. Then, fed up with junk food an increasing amount of the population started to fall in love with organic food. From one extreem to another, the UK doesn't appear to do baby steps. Marketing has been a great help in stepping over into the world of organic. Never underestimate the power of advertising in the UK! One of the first organic shops which opened in London was called “Fresh and Wild”. An eye catching name! People were immediately seduced, Organic products soon became the hight of fashion and British people turned out to be organic freaks. Not to mention the effects of the food problems during the 90s and the obsessive fear of mad-cow disease. They now wanted to be sure of what they had in their plates. In 2006, they spent £2 billion on organic food. However, the credit crunch has inevitably slowed down consumption. 


Organic shopping
Organic shopping

But, more generally, what is the attraction of organic? Organic addicts invoke the health benefits first. Organic food is grown according to certain production standards, meaning it is grown without the use of certain conventional pesticides and artificial fertilizers, free from contamination by human or industrial waste, and processed without food additives. If livestock is involved, they must be reared without the routine use of antibiotics and without the use of growth hormones, and generally fed a healthy diet. Organic produce is not to be genetically modified. So it is obviously healthier than junk or processed food. Besides, eating organic is less fatty in general and people eating this type of food are more keen on fresh fruits and vegetables. Getting their five fresh fruits and vegetables a day is certainly not a concern! Most of the time, these people are sugar conscious, caffeine conscious, and keep on pleading for low sodium… quite the model of a healthy diet! It is generally a part of a healthy way of life including sports and Zen attitude.

The eco-friendly aspect is extremely important as well. Organic farming could be linked to sustainable development since it doesn’t use fertilizers or chemical products and as such doesn’t pollute the soil and ground waters. Besides, this type of  farming is based on proximity and on seasonal produce. Therefore, it reduces pollution as there is less need to import and it has a more human dimension. Eating organic is reassuring since one knows what one is eating...which is not the case with processed food! That’s why organic products are under a meticulous surveillance and need to be labelled.



If it’s so good, why doesn't everybody eat organic? The main reason is, without any doubt, the cost. Organic products are more expensive than non organic ones. So, we have to admit that eating organic has socio-economic links. That’s why  it concerns only 1% of the world’s food market, 49% of it in Europe and 47% in North America. Besides people don’t have the organic reflex yet and it’s harder to find than non organic ones. The day when everybody will eat organic is not upon us yet, despite of its general good image! Too bad!


17/11/2009 - mikep said :

Whats best for the planet, some nice conventional veg from the farm next door or organic flown in from california?????

05/03/2009 - cherrimae said :

lots of words, little content


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