QUALITY – Production of naturally safe, high quality, nutritionally vital foods
SELF-SUFFICIENCY – Optimal production output, with rational and minimised use of inputs
RECYCLING – Use of recycling and biological cycles within the farming system
INCREASED BIODIVERSITY – Biodiversity protection and enhancement within the farm and surrounding areas
REGENERATION – Regeneration of lands and soils and best environmental practice of farming activities
What does organic mean?
NO artificial pesticides – NO synthetic herbicides – NO hormones – NO growth promotants
NO genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
Organic and biodynamic farming means farming in a way that cares for the environment without relying upon synthetic chemicals and other unnatural interventionist approaches. Rather than using synthetic pesticides to kill pests, farmers prevent pests by planting a diverse range of crops, by rotating crops, using natural biological and environmentally friendly inputs, and conserving natural ecosystems. Organic farming has a total focus on soil health. By focusing on soil health first, the health of the plant follows. This in turn enables the plant to feed animals on a balanced and healthy diet. It is all about health management (not disease control) and preventative techniques. Like with the human body, if you treat your body firstly in terms of (disease) prevention and healthy practices, you are less likely to ever need interventionist medicine. Organic farming aims to achieve the same outcome where prevention of disease and the focus on health ensures a productive farming environment.
What is Biodynamic, and how does it differ from Organic:
Biodynamic farming is an enhanced or alternative method of organic farming. Biodynamic utilises traditional farming techniques and a prescribed list of biological or natural “preparations” (herbal, mineral & manure-based), whilst acknowledging and working with universal or cosmic forces that are at play in the farming environment. Many organic farmers practice biodynamic methods and the Australian Organic’s certification program Australian Certified Organic covers both Biodynamic (or BD) certification as well as organic certification.
How can I tell if it’s organic?
The organic certification program was set up in the 1980’s in Australia to ensure that what was claimed to be organic indeed was just that. It required an independent setting of standards and an independent team of assessors (known as auditors or inspectors) to ensure that farmers, processors and others in the production chain were complying with rules and regulations laid down by the organic community.
Australia does not have domestic legislation for the term and is unlikely to for some years yet, so the only way to ensure something is organic – unless you produce it yourself – is to seek and rely on a certification mark such as the “Bud” logo to confirm that it has been independently certified to truly national and international standards for organic production.
By reading the label it should say that the produce is certified organic or certified biodynamic. If it is not certified and carrying a logo you cannot be sure that the produce is organic. There should also be a unique certification number for each certified operation, along with a batch code or other traceable system such that each product can be traced back to its point of origin.
There are two levels or categories to certification:
Farmers require a minimum of three years of organic management before they can carry a certification stating “Organic”. There is a transitory certificate called “In Conversion to Organic” which can be borne after the first 12 months of organic production until this three year period is complete. Food bearing either label is confirmation that those items are being produced organically on farm – it is just that the “In Conversion” product has arisen from a farm that has been in the organic certification program and been producing organically for less time.
International and domestically produced products and labels:
You will occasionally notice products imported from overseas. Again because of a lack of domestic protection and legislation in Australia, it is essential you insist on there being a certification mark on the product. The most likely ones you will come across are from the US – being the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) logo, a European Union (EU) logo or reference to the Standard 2092/91 which refers to the European organic legislation, and lastly occasionally a JAS (or Japan Agriculture Standard) logo. These independent logos and standards mean that the product and the producer have been assessed in accordance with international standards by a third party organisation.
Organic Meat, Dairy & Eggs:
Animal welfare is high priority on organic farms, with adequate shade, shelter, feed and clean, fresh drinking water available at all times. Organically-grown animals are free-range, with access to organic pasture for their entire lives.
Any grains, hay or other feeds must be organic, with up to 5% chemical-free, non-organic feed allowed only where absolutely necessary. Feeds may also be supplemented with things such as seaweed, minerals, natural vitamins, etc., required for a balanced diet. Good nutrition, rotational grazing practices and natural treatments are used to help prevent & resist pests and diseases. Vaccines are allowed where a disease is endemic to the area and threatens animal welfare, but must be non-GM. The use of synthetic nitrogen supplements, growth promotants and hormones is prohibited. To be sold for organic meat, animals must be grown organically from the last trimester as a foetus onwards. Animal transport and handling is arranged in such a way as to minimise stress and prevent contamination. Meat must be processed at a certified organic abattoir and butcher that comply with these organic standards to be sold using the ‘Bud’ logo.