|Posted by more-than-organic on September 7, 2009 at 9:45 AM|
Thank you for highlighting some important points with your 'blind taste test'.
Supermarket branded organic products, as a rule, do not represent the high quality achieved by smaller independant sustainable farms.
Organic dairies producing yoghurt for supermarket branded products do not have the incentive to focus on taste, texture and aroma achieved by independant companies such as Rachels, and Yeo Valley. Both these companies have won awards for the taste of their organic products, and in my subjective opinion ,are better representatives of organic food.
Taking apples as an example. Organic Royal Gala apples sold by Sainbury's (5 for £2.49), are imported from New Zealand! Such a colossal amount of food miles can never represent the concerns for sustainabilily and quality at the heart of the true organic movement. Note: To their credit Sainbury's, are now also offering British Organic apples, but this is an exception, rather than the rule.
Personally, I've tasted conventionally grown, local British apples that taste better than organic apples from New Zealand. So if you'd like to find a true representative of an organic apple here in the UK, look for a small British organic grower or find someone with an apple tree in their garden. Over the next month, British gardens will be awash with apples.
The sustainability of food production directly affects quality and value. For this reason it was surprising not to see it mentioned in your article.
Smaller organic farms rely on developing sustainable systems of growing food because it is at the heart of their cause. Many of the standards and rules made by organisations like The Soil Association, strengthen this cause.
So called 'conventional' methods of agriculture are much less sustainable, because of their need for oil based fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Without these fertilizers and chemicals, conventional crops could not be grown.
Supermarkets that import organic produce from the other side of the world are confusing customers, by diluting the core value of sustainablity at the heart of the organic movement.
When considering the value represented by a particular purchase, most people will consider how long that purchase will benefit them. Food is no different. Thinking that food purchases are simply about satisfying our immediate hunger is particularly short sighted.
Investing in buying food from local sustainable farms is an investment in the future capacity of our land to support us. Conventional or industrial farming offers no long term sustainable future. So when we buy sustainable foods, we are investing in the future capacity of our land to provide foods for our children and grand children. I'd call that valuable.
On January 10 2008, News International announced to the world with a fanfare that it was Carbon Neutral. Since The Times, as part of News International, is clearly so concerned with sustainability, it's surprising it didn't even get a mention in your article.
My subjective personal finance advice for people who see the future of this country's food system as important, is to invest in local, sustainable foods...as natural as possible.