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A Christmas Tail

Marianne Landzettel: Baby animals are cute. Kittens lead on YouTube searches, loo rolls sell better if a puppy stars in the commercial, and who could possibly resist lambs, calves, foals and fawns? But to me the cutest of the lot are piglets; they are playful, inquisitive, friendly, intelligent, and they’ve got the looks. I say this as someone who is partial to a pork chop – but under one condition: the hog whose bacon I fry must have had a good life. The same goes for dairy cows, chicken and sheep – any animal that contributes to the food I cook and eat. How do you know an animal has or had a good life? For me one of the many reasons to go organic is the high animal welfare standards that come with certified organic production.

01 December 2015 | 3 Comments | Recommended by 9

Organic vs conventional and what fish has in common with organic whole milk

Marianne Landzettel: A widely reported study published in the July edition of the British Journal of Nutrition found that there is a difference between organic and non-organic fruit, veg and cereal crops. Organic produce has a higher concentration in antioxidants and less cadmium, nitrate, nitrite and pesticide residue. In other words: more good stuff and less of the bad.

12 August 2014 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 0

Organic September needs a recipe for success

Anna Louise Batchelor: Last year’s ‘Organic September’ was a great success with organic food sales in the month increasing by nearly 9%. The ‘Small Changes, Big Difference’ campaign theme also gained a great deal of publicity in both print and social media, the latter allowing people to really engage with the campaign through making personal pledges. Personally I know that Organic September 2013 has been a success because I’m already recipe writing for September 2014.

31 July 2014 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 8

The Felfie; farmers and their smart phones are taking over Twitter!

Anna Louise Batchelor: Have heard the saying 'you learn something new every day'? Well today you are going to learn about the 'Felfie'! Last Friday I attended induction training for my role on the Soil Association's Standards Board. In one day I learnt; the detailed procedures of setting and implementing the Association's organic standards and the work of each of the individual the standards committees. What I was not expecting to learn, whilst chatting to my new colleagues, was about the 'Felfie'.

29 January 2014 | 4 Comments | Recommended by 9

Board but never boring

Anna Louise Batchelor: Last week I attended the 'away day' of the Soil Association Standards Board. As a newly appointed board member a two-day meeting loomed large on my calendar, nearly as large as the parcel of papers I received to read in advance. Armed with papers and PJ’s I travelled to Stroud, Gloucestershire to join the board at Hawkwood College.

02 December 2013 | 1 Comments | Recommended by 37

Branching out into Beef

Stephen Smith: In my role as Senior Certification officer at Soil Association Certification I particularly enjoy the chance to get out of the office and meet our inspiring farmers. This year’s Organic September theme is ‘Small Change, Big Difference’, which gave me the perfect excuse to visit one of our licensees who really are making changes. On a fine summer’s day back in August I visited Langford Farm, where pioneering Charlie and Teresa Allward have recently branched out by setting up a unique beef box scheme, making good use of the calves produced from their dairy herd.

20 September 2013 | 0 Comments | Recommended by 11

Passing on organic knowledge, Scandinavia comes to True Food.

Anna Louise Batchelor: At the True Food Community Co-operative we take pride in being involved in the wider organic movement; from informal information sharing to speaking at conferences and even being a case study for large scale, large budget, food projects. However, there is nothing like actually meeting people who are interested in what you do.

15 August 2013 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 4

What it says on the tin... or pot

Peter Melchett: Methylisothiazolinone, Phthalates, Parabens, PEGs - (polyethylene glycols, Non-natural Propylene Glycol (PG), Cocamide DEA... I could go on. You would wash the floor with some of these, clean your oven with them, find them in antifreeze or use some of them to redecorate your house, some are banned in food or children's toys because of the risk that they are carcinogens, so would you knowingly put them on your skin? It alarms me that all are found in the bathrooms of our homes in health and beauty products, more worryingly some are even found in products labeled as 'natural' or 'nature inspired'.

03 June 2013 | 8 Comments | Recommended by 9

What came first? Organic chicken or egg?

Amy Leech: Years before horsemeat made a joke of our food system, I made a resolution to eat less but better quality meat - making it affordable to buy food I can trust. But despite the string of supermarkets that I’ll pedal past, I’ll be hard pushed to find organic meat on the shelves. If I can’t choose it, I can’t buy it.

20 March 2013 | 7 Comments | Recommended by 6

French lesson: Independents help grow organic sales

Charles Redfern: An old acquaintance of mine, Jean Verdier, is president of Synabio (the Organic Trade Board equivalent in France). He recently sent me a link to an interview he gave on French TV.

20 November 2012 | 8 Comments | Recommended by 1

A witch in my wardrobe

Amy Leech: The contents of my wardrobe don’t change much - you’re more likely to find Narnia in there than this season’s print or cut of jeans. When I do go clothes shopping, the way the fabric has been produced doesn’t influence whether I’ll take it home or not. But having spent the last few months digging deeper into the impacts of cotton production, I have learnt that my attitude to clothes and how they are produced is in need of makeover.

04 October 2012 | 67 Comments | Recommended by 6

Sunny side up please

Amy Leech: The first law of thermodynamics, and probably the only one I can ever remember, says that energy cannot be created or destroyed - it may be transformed or moved – but it definitely does not appear from thin air. Plants use a lot of energy. Every day they busy themselves converting all sorts of energy, gases and matter into the elements and nutrients they need to grow. The energy they have converted is then passed on to us via these nutrients – they make up the food we eat.

26 April 2012 | 12 Comments | Recommended by 11

Big-up the real organic brands

Charles Redfern: Supermarket organic sales are down again. Sales of supermarket own-label organic are down by 9.5% and organic brands sold in supermarkets are down by 2.9%. The shelf space for organic products has been reduced and so have the number of organic products on offer.

03 April 2012 | 193 Comments | Recommended by 68

Oily fraud? Virtues of organic certification

Charles Redfern: Last week, the Guardian published two articles on olive oil fraud. While both reported on some breathtaking scams, one showed readers how to tell the real thing, and, neither mentioned the virtues of organic certification for protecting the consumer. Firstly organic olives are grown without chemical fertilisers or pesticides. Then, when it comes to processing, organic olive oil (like all organic oils) is not allowed to be chemically treated, heat-treated, refined or had any solvents added. This is to ensure the product is as near to its natural state as possible, to conserve as many nutrients as possible. According to organic principles, quality, taste and nutritional benefits are safeguarded - right from the start.

12 January 2012 | 159 Comments | Recommended by 13

The Road to 2020

Helen Browning: It has been a busy few weeks. Organic September is proving a great success with activities taking place all over the country, and lots of promotional activities among our licensees. And today I’m very excited to announce the publication of the first iteration of our refreshed strategy: ‘The road to 2020': Towards healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use’

27 September 2011 | 49 Comments | Recommended by 12

Future of Food depends on vibrant living soils

Caroline Corsie: It was great to hear Helen draw attention to this in her opening remarks. Simple 3rd Law of Thermodynamics in that energy can only pass from hot to cold! There’s something about promoting the organic message to conventional farmers. Perhaps to do this the Soil Association could hypothesise how the likes of Nocton might sit in as part of a range of farming systems (e.g. might it free up land for wildlife, rebuilding soil health).

09 February 2011 | 2 Comments | Recommended by 6

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