Many of us have believed for a long time that food produced without the use of chemicals is much better for our health and the environment. However, proponents of industrial agriculture continue to insist that there is little difference and that their methods are safe. Until recently the lack of research has helped to cast uncertainty around the issue but this is no longer the case. As the Soils Association explains: “The most up-to-date research shows that organic crops are of a much higher nutritional quality than their non-organic counterparts. The peer reviewed research, a ‘meta-analysis’ of 343 previous studies by Newcastle University, and published in the British Journal of Nutrition, has found significant differences between organic and non-organic farming. The research presents strong evidence that switching to food produced organically can lead to increased intake of nutritionally desirable antioxidants, without increased calories, as well as a reduced intake of potentially harmful cadmium and pesticides. The best way to reduce your exposure to pesticides in all foods is to buy organic. Many people don’t realise over 320 pesticides can be routinely used in non-organic farming and these are often present in non-organic food. Non-organic fruit had the highest pesticide frequency (75%), compared to non-organic vegetables (32%) and non-organic crop based processed foods (45%) Why is organic better for the planet? Organic works with nature, not against it. Intensive agriculture causes soil erosion, chemical run-off into water systems and can mean some weeds and insects become resistant to herbicides and pesticides. Organic farming on the other hand doesn’t rely on synthetic or petroleum-based pesticides or fertilizers. It significantly reduces water and soil contamination. Wildlife can thrive. Don’t you think organic is a breath of fresh air? Combating climate change Agriculture plays a big part in climate change and is responsible for around 14% of total green-house gas (GHG) emissions worldwide. The widespread adoption of organic farming practices in the UK could offset at least 23% of UK agriculture’s current official GHG emissions. This is because healthy soils are a major store of carbon, containing three times as much carbon as the atmosphere and five times as much as forests! The impact of switching to organic farming could save 64 million tonnes of carbon over 20 years across all UK cultivated land – the equivalent of taking nearly a million family cars off the road!” So now that we know the truth what is stopping us all from eating organic food? Well for some the price might be prohibitive but if we take a closer look there might not be as much difference in price as we think. By buying local produce that is in season you’ll probably find there is very little difference from the prices you pay in the supermarket or the grocers. That is why now is a great time to go organic as there is a wide variety of local produce available at the moment. Arthur Street Trading is a workers Co-op that has been supplying local organic produce to households in our area for 18 years. This year we have taken over the running of the walled garden at Rise from Bob Slater who is retiring after 19 years of growing organic vegetables there. We have delicious, strawberries, broad beans and lettuces ripening at the moment with plenty of other produce on the way. We can deliver it to your door for free or, if you prefer, come and collect for yourselves on Mondays or Wednesdays. Better still, bring your boots and join in with the work. We need all the help we can get to stay on top of the weeds! Arthur Street has always sourced as much of our produce as possible locally. We collect from all the organic farms in the East Riding before bringing in more produce from major suppliers in Tadcaster, West Yorkshire to ensure an all year round supply of all types of vegetables and fruit as well as other wholefoods. Due to the great difficulty in making ends meet as a small producer of food, there are only a handful of very hardy and committed organic farmers who have survived in this area but their produce is well worth trying out. Gwen, of Green Growers in Nafferton produces lovely salad bags packed with goodness and a variety of flavours at a very reasonable price of £1.30. Jenny at Foston Nurseries sells the finest free range organic eggs in the land at only £1.75 and tomatoes fertilised with her chicken manure. The Sellars family, also at Foston, produce award winning mueslis and granolas, all toasted with honey in a wood burning oven. These are made from their own grains, including spelt, from which they also produce flours for bread making. They also sell refreshing cordials using fruits from their orchard. Densholme Farm in Hatfield is now harvesting some of the tastiest and best value new potatoes to be found anywhere and will have a steady supply of delicious fruits throughout the summer and autumn. This reminds me of the best reason of all for going organic- the taste! Once you’ve got into the habit of eating local and organic there’s no turning back!