Why I buy organic

More and more of us are enjoying organic with around 84% of UK homes now choosing to buy it. To find out more about what's driving this increase in demand, writer Kathy Slack interviewed three Instagram sensations with very different approaches to food.

Why I buy organic

Emma Ross www.mamalina.co

If you are anything like me, your Instagram feed will be a mouthwatering collection of beautiful and exciting food ideas created by endlessly inventive people who seem to spend their entire lives surrounded by stunning ingredients. It’s pretty idyllic stuff and a constant source of inspiration for my own recipe writing.

Lately, I’ve noticed that many of these creators are talking about their use of organic which made me wonder, what’s driving this? So, I spoke to three of Instagram’s best known organic shoppers, each with very different approaches to food – slow-living mum Emma Ross (@mamalinauk), fitness fanatic Freddie Coplestone (@fitnessfreddie) and plant-based food blogger Niki Webster (@rebelrecipes) - and asked them, what made you start buying organic food?

Niki from Rebel Recipes

“Being a huge foodie I've always been interested in where my food comes from and eating as many natural unprocessed foods as possible,” says Rebel Recipes, Niki Webster. “So I started buying organic as soon as it became more available.”

Freddie was similarly influenced by his work interests. He started buying organic food in 2010 when he launched his personal training business. “I couldn’t advise my clients without leading by example!” he says.

Emma Ross, on the other hand, is relatively new to organic food. “I started buying organic probably about 18 months ago mainly for the health benefits for me and the family but also for the overall positive impact it has on the earth.”

And I wonder if Emma is symptomatic of a wider change. As the trend for healthy food and slower, simpler lifestyles grows (certainly on Instagram, anyway) then more people will become aware of how their food’s provenance affects these things and so will naturally gravitate to organic.

Wheat illustration

We move on to discuss the best places to buy organic food. I grow a lot of my own produce, but I’m a huge fan of veg boxes for topping up. Niki agrees. “If my husband Andy has been super organised with growing veg then in the summer we have lots of lovely home grown delights. Failing that we get a veg box or organic ranges in the supermarkets.”

And the general consensus is that while organic food used to be solely the preserve of farmers’ markets, some so tucked away they felt like a well-kept local secret, today everyone feels supermarkets have upped their game. Freddie buys most of his organic produce from supermarkets these days. Emma explains she too buys from “mainly supermarkets but also from farmers’ markets and farm shops” and adds, “I wish there were organic pick your own farms.” Watch this space for a Mamalina organic market garden!

I like that by buying organic, you are supporting the ecosystem and the overall health of the planet.

It’s true that vegetables are quite high on the list of things our shoppers like to buy organically. “Being plant-based I mainly focus on buying organic vegetables, fruit, pulses, nuts and seeds. I prioritise vegetables as that makes the bulk of my meals,” says Niki.

Bowl and spoon illustration

“I don't eat meat”, says Emma. “But the kids do, which I always make sure to buy organic. Organic cows have superior living conditions, which means the meat itself is also better for us.” She goes on, “We don't consume much dairy except for the kids, but when I do buy it, it is always organic. Organic dairy cows are free to live an outdoor life and are fed a grass-rich, GM free diet.”

Freddie focuses on “anything I consider fresh and alive” like eggs, milk, meat and veg. “I like to know animals have been treated well and I’m getting the best source of nutrients,” he explains.

And indeed, the main reasons Niki, Emma and Freddie buy organic are environmental and welfare ones. “Taste goes without saying”, says Niki. “For me, the number one reason for buying organic is consuming fewer nasties; pesticides, preservatives etc while at the same time helping the environment.” Emma agrees. “Certainly it tastes great, contains more antioxidants and it's great to know we are eating foods which are not damaging the environment”. As Freddie concludes, “it’s mostly the ethics behind it. Fewer pesticides on fruit and veg is a huge one; the long-term side effects are still unknown. There’s the obvious fact that it’s going to be better for the planet and the animals. But it's also that it’s a proven fact organic produce is nutritionally different. Where health and fitness is concerned; squeezing every ounce of benefit from what you eat is vital when sticking to a strict regime.”

Freddie Coplestone

Health, environment, welfare, ethics – it all plays a part in why these Instagram foodies buy organic. But at the core of it all seems to be a desire to do as little harm to the world as they can and, even better, give something back. They each have a passion for food that nourishes and sustains your health and the environment. As Niki says, “it’s a long term investment” and Freddie acknowledges this value as well. “Sometimes buying organic is slightly more expensive, but it’s worth the additional cost for better quality almost without question.”

Emma sums up the sentiment of the group beautifully. “Buying organic makes me more conscious of the food I put in my family's body. I like that by buying organic, you are supporting the ecosystem and the overall health of the planet. Organic farming significantly reduces water and soil contamination and helps wildlife to thrive - so by eating organic we are giving back to the land from which the produce is grown.”

Kathy Slack

Kathy Slack

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