It’s more expensive and most often preferred by younger, relatively well-paid city dwellers, but as a sign of the times, four in five Australian shoppers are quite happy to buy organic food.
In fact, although they typically cost around 25% more than conventional supermarkets, 60% of Australians buy organic at a low level and, in particular, show great interest in fresh organic produce.
About 9 million of Australia’s 10 million households ate, drank or purchased organic wear last year.
And there’s a good chance that the 37% of regular organic buyers in Australia are healthier because of their choice, according to growing medical evidence, just like the soils that grow their food.
Research from the organic industry shows that consumers are increasingly likely to think about their health when they choose to eat foods produced without preservatives, synthetic agricultural chemicals, drugs and fertilizers.
As fear of the coronavirus lingers in the background, over 60% of shoppers surveyed in the past year cited personal health as a motivator for their first organic purchase
About 45% referred to the environmental benefits of organic farming.
While organic farming cannot realistically replace conventional production around the world, Sydney physician and Australian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine President Mark Donohoe said there was no doubt that a organic diet had great advantages.
This was especially the case for many people struggling with issues with the immune system, gut health, inflammation, and skin health.
We could reduce the national health budget if there was more support for organic food production and its availability
“Obviously, agriculture has to be pragmatic to feed a population of 8 billion people, but we find that a high proportion of patients have an adverse reaction to their environment which cannot necessarily be treated by distributing pills”, did he declare.
“It’s amazing how quickly cleaning up your diet with clean food, clean water and a clean environment can help fight conditions like arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease, the problems cardiovascular or chronic skin problems.
“I’m sure we could cut the national health budget if there was more support for organic food production and availability.”
It’s a thought likely to be highly applauded by Australia’s $ 2.5 billion organic sector, which coincidentally celebrates Organic Awareness Month every September.
“Not all consumers want to go the fully organic route, but many are making this decision in response to health concerns,” said Australian Organic Managing Director Niki Ford, who herself converted to organic a few years ago. decade after suffering from poor health.
Sydney-based Dr Donohoe said that while many people, especially busy working families with children, did not regularly consider or could afford the biological choice, it was indeed a question of life changing for some patients with serious health problems.
“In fact, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that we would have far fewer health problems in our population if we were more careful about eating quality foods early in our lives – as children and young adults,” he said. he declares.
Indeed, organic foods have helped develop a more robust human immune system, fortifying our bodies to better cope with a host of modern environmental changes.
“Unfortunately, it often happens that we don’t start thinking about or buying a healthier diet until we are much older and potentially sick.”
However, these trends can be distorted somewhat, as a recent consumer survey for Australian Organic found that the most dedicated shoppers in the organic market were in their 30s, while the highly determined shoppers. to regularly buy at least some organic products were generally between the ages of 18 and 29. .
Consumers in both groups were practically likely to earn a relatively healthy salary of between $ 84,000 and $ 125,000 per year.
Meanwhile, organic growers are also insisting that their soils, crops, and livestock are better protected from seasonal extremes, pests, and disease because of the different attention they receive.
Irrigation water use is also down 25% or more on the Riverland organic vineyards of South Australian wine producer Angove as the soils have better moisture holding capacity and greater microbial activity feeding the vines, thanks to regular composting, cover crops, higher soil carbon content and reduced tillage.
In fact, vineyards converted to organic farming were not only drought tolerant but also excelled during exceptionally wet seasons, Angove winemaker Tony Ingle said.
The Angove family’s long history of conventional winemaking dramatically changed the millennial drought when water availability was limited and CEO John Angove decided to convert some of the company’s 500 hectares of vineyards near from Renmark to organic production.
Drought was a big factor, Ingle said, as was the cost of keeping water in conventional “highly manipulated” systems that had since proven to be much less resilient than organic vineyards.
“But the turning point came in the very wet 2011 vintage, when our vines survived and performed much better than conventional vineyards,” he said.
Although the organic sites initially entered two shock seasons, the winemaker’s growing area of organic grapes appeared more resilient to weather issues and pests, and “take better care of itself.”
The vines remained healthier, the fruits had thicker skins with better color concentration, and the quality of the wine was brighter and tasted more intense.
In humid conditions, conventional fungicides have been replaced by an organic alternative – baking soda – the life of beneficial insects, including bees, has thrived, and dozens of ducks are now waddling through the vines to combat the spring snail activity.
“There have been a lot of really positive changes to our Riverland wineries, even though they look more scruffy,” said Ingle.
“They smell cleaner, the soils are much less compacted and luckily, they’ve transformed our business.
While yields were around 30% lower than previous peaks, Angove saved on many input costs, including water, crop chemicals and traditional fertilizers.
Mr Ingle estimated that the overall cost of organic Angove production was almost 30% higher than conventional systems, but he doubted that traditional viticulture, especially the names behind major commodity brands, can remain sustainable by increasingly squeezing the margins of increasingly impoverished soils.
“Industry is not looking after the land well enough to keep it profitable – the country is getting hungrier.”
In contrast, the Angove family were enthusiastic about the idea of sustaining their production base, carrying on a 133-year legacy in the wine industry and helping to strengthen the sustainability of agriculture and regional communities.
The Story Why the switch to organic is gaining a healthy appeal to the general public first appeared on Farm Online.