“The future will be green or not at all’ - Bob Brown. This inspirational quotation encompasses every thought and feeling that I have about why it is important to look after our environment and planet Earth, and part of this is looking after the very soil that grows our food. The human race has grown faster than any other species in relation to the space it takes up on this planet and with the way that we currently feed ourselves, we are damaging the soil so that it will soon struggle to sustain the human race.
A win win situation (as we practise in Aikido - the martial art of peace) is one where we each win and the planet wins too. There are many things that we could do as humans such as recycling, reusing, limiting waste and other ways of minimising the impact of humans on the planet. One of ways of doing this is moving back to organic farming and making the most of technology to optimise farming and using other food sources.
Not only have some studies shown that some nutrients might be higher in organically farmed food but we also are starting to understand the impact of pesticides and antibiotics on our own health and the damage that it might cause. For example, extensive use of antibiotics in animal farming has impacted our gut health by decreasing the variety of beneficial bacteria in our gut. Disrupting this delicate internal ecosystem has be shown to be important in heart disease, diabetes, cancer, allergies, depression and more. The Soil Association champions organic food and farming and the future of both. Not only does this charity certify organic food, but helps to raise awareness of farming and animal welfare practices and how we can protect the environment from further damage.
Earlier in the year, I was lucky enough to visit the farm of Helen Browning, the president of the Soil Association and learn more about organic animal farming, agriforestry, farming policy and how to reshape this. By concentrating on improving soil, planting trees and increasing biodiversity, this can actual increase productivity in the long term, particularly when you bring more perennial crops to the field. By improving animal welfare, we also help to improve the quality of the food we eat and thereby, our own health. There is so much more for me to learn but whilst I was having organic dairy products and some fruit and vegetables, I wasn't always having organic meat. The difference in the welfare of organic animal farming and conventional farming is vast - seeing factory farmed animals is so cruel.
So what is not allowed for organic food:
Genetically modified ingredients, even in animal feed (over a million tonnes of GM crops are imported each year to feed the majority of non-organic livestock)
Hydrogenated fats and controversial artificial food colours and preservatives
Additives such as aspartame and tartrazine and MSG (only 55 of the 338 food additives allowed by the EU are permitted in organic food)
No routine use of antibiotics in farm animals
As humans, we want to look after number one, ourselves but in order to do this, we need to look after our Mother Earth as she has nourished us for millions of years. Every small act that we each take as adds up and together, we can make a huge impact, whether this is good or bad. For me, I try to recycle everything that I possibly can. I also try not to waste food by sharing with others, cooking things up and freezing them, creating recipes out of what is available. What could you take on to help the planet?
I am hugely thrilled to be part of Organic September and will be cooking some of my recipes and talking about the nutrition aspects of eating organically on 16th September at Wholefoods Kensington. You can come along for free - just sign up here.