Organic September: What Actually Makes a Food Organic?

This year marks the 50th anniversary of organic certification in the UK.

In 1973, accreditation schemes were launched, allowing farmers to gain certification proving they don’t use harmful chemicals in their growing or production methods.

These were the salad days of climate activism – Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth were founded two years earlier – and the movement has gone from strength to strength ever since.

“It’s something that’s been going for half a century and couldn’t be more searingly relevant for what we need our food system to be for the next 50 years ahead,” says Alex Cullen, commercial and marketing director at the Soil Association, one of eight approved certification bodies.

“Both in the EU and now in the UK post-Brexit, it’s really strictly legislated – organic food essentially needs to be independently verified and inspected.”

To mark Organic September, we asked experts to describe what organic really means when it comes to food, and why it’s beneficial for us and the environment…