Organic September needs a recipe for success

Anna Louise Batchelor - 31 July 2014

Small changes, big difference logoLast 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.

As well as being an environmental scientist I am also a food writer. I work with companies and publications to produce a range of written work that focuses on sustainable and seasonal foods. In the beginning it was hard to establish myself in the food world as the average response I got was “what has the environment got to do with food…?” However in the last 2 years I have experienced a shift. This change has meant that I now get requests from more ‘conventional’ publications for writing and recipes. Whilst this is good news for the organic sector and for me! It’s also posing to be a challenge.

Before writing a recipe I have to consider each individual ingredient, not just for flavour but also on; seasonality, location grown, embedded carbon, ethics of production and for September is it organic? When working with more mainstream publications I have an added criteria; how readily available is it? And when it comes to organic this is posing a real problem for me.

‘Readily available’ is really magazine speak for can a shopper buy the ingredients whilst doing his/her weekly supermarket shop. Whilst some of us have the option to shop in great local, independent and primarily organic shops the reality is most people shop in the supermarkets and it’s the supermarkets that are letting me down.   

This morning I got on my bike and broke out of my food co-op shopping bubble to head to the ‘big four’. Ingredients list in hand I trekked up and down the aisles in search of organic options. Sorely disappointed and with sore feet I had to move onto the more ‘up market’ food retailers. Overall the morning was a failure with the supermarkets really lacking to provide a range of organic produce (save the staple safe options of broccoli, bananas, milk) or tucking products away in the speciality/fine/gluten free foods section.

Back home and back to the recipe writing board, I have a message for supermarket buyers; September is coming, shoppers are coming and they want organic! So stock up now to make Organic September a recipe for success.

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L Thornbury
13 August 2014 11:14

I look forward to organic September. It would be good to have more organic food in the shops.

Le Comptoir de Stephanie
07 August 2014 21:35

Yes, supermarkets are stocking on Organic if they see the potential market share they can get. But they don't look how "organic" it is (local, seasonal...) and yes, most of the people shop in supermarkets. For me, there are little options offered :-(

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