During the week of 17th – 25th September all across Australia is National Organic Week (NOW).
The theme for this year’s event is “Taste the Difference, Feel the Difference, Make a Difference” and organisers are hoping to raise awareness of the benefits of organic products and farming production systems to help propel these initiatives further in the Australian community and the environment via local activities.
The event has the support of State and Local Governments and has kicked off some great new incentives and actions. One of these actions is to work towards implementing a new logo or seal for all organic products certified in Australia. While this is the case in other countries such as the USA and Canada, Australia instead has six individual certification bodies to certify organic food and products, each with their own logo. While all are accredited by the Australian Government having six certification standards makes it very confusing for the consumer. Those authorised bodies being:
- AUS-QUAL Pty Ltd (AUSQUAL)
- Australian Certified Organic (ACO)
- Bio-Dynamic Research Institute (BDRI)
- NASAA Certified Organic (NCO)
- Organic Food Chain (OFC)
- Safe Food Production Queensland (SFQ)
To continue to not have one easily recognisable seal can create a negative perception amongst consumers trying desperately to ascertain real organic products, especially when some products claiming to be ‘certified organic Australian’ products can be misleadingly labelled imports and others labelled as ‘Free Range,’ ‘Natural,’ or ‘Quality,’ are not necessarily certified organic.
As Ambassador of National Organic Week, Costa Georgiadis says – “As consumers, you want food you can recognise and trust. Buying organic products supports food safety, health, good nutrition and the environment. Products that carry the logo of an accredited organic certification body are guaranteed to be genuine organic.”
But isn’t buying organic more expensive?
Well, yes it is, but prices have been coming down dramatically. One of the reasons for this is due to main supermarket players stocking organic more and more.
According to the Australian Organic Food Directory, food prices correlate to the costs of growing, harvesting, transportation, storage, processing and packaging. The reason why organic food is more expensive is due to production being more labour and management intensive due to it happening on a smaller scale (smaller farms). In comparison however, if we look at the indirect costs of conventional food production, the costs associated with eroded soil replacement; polluted water cleanup; and the costs of health care for farmers, farm workers, consumers and environment due to artificial pesticide production and disposal – then organic food works out to be much cheaper.
True, smaller farms cannot compete with the bigger ones, but this doesn’t always affect yield. Organic farming just means that the production yields are more often not lower. This is due to organic food not needing the use of artificial fertilisers, pesticides and other technological aids to keep it ‘fresher longer’ which is why we need to change the trend in Australia. In other countries where organic production is of a higher proportion to standard farming practices, the price of organic food is coming down. Depending on where you live in Australia can also affect the purchase price of organic fruit and vegetables, so best to shop as locally as possible, farm to table.
6 Reasons to give Organic a Go!
- Know what’s in your food
- Reduce your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals
- Know what you put on your skin
- Humane treatment of animals
- Help combat climate change
- Help protect our wildlife
All great incentives to make the change! For the nitty gritty get the low down from the National Organic Week website here.
How you can benefit or participate in National Organic Week
Firstly, if you’re wanting to purchase organic and don’t know where to start, your best bet is the Australasian Organic & Natural Directory. Where everything is listed by State, then by item, and the categories may surprise you. Not only do they cover food, but they also have listings for everything from needs for babies and children, to house, garden, pets, clothing, therapies and more.
There is also the Australian Consumer’s Choice Awards, where you can vote for your favourite organic brand and product to help support this growing industry.
Either register or go to a local event being held during National Organic Week via their Events tab in your state.
Start your own organic vegetable garden!
We have heaps of tips here in a couple of our existing articles on Hills To Headlands:
- The Sustainable Way by Giverny De’Ol
- First Steps to Successful Vegetable Growing by Sarah Barnes
- Gardening with Pallets by Rod Weir
- Guiding Children into Organic Living by Renee Donoghue
- International Composting Awareness Week by Angela Miller-Davis
If you don’t have a backyard, or your green thumb could do with some assistance, why not join a local community gardening group? Check out your local council website for details. Local groups can be found via the Gold Coast City Council website.
Eat Your Backyard Event – Saturday October 22nd: 9.30am – 3.00pm
While not part of Organic Week, coming up in October, Gecko proudly presents their own free community event “Eat Your Backyard” and invites you and your family and friends to join us at the beautiful Country Paradise Parklands in Nerang.
As part of the event Gecko are delighted to have Jerry Coleby-Williams of ABC Gardening Australia and Prof Catherine Pickering from Griffith University to deliver engaging talks on creating sustainable urban gardens whilst providing food for ourselves as well as our native wildlife.
During the day there will be information and demonstrations on growing edible produce and native plants in any space while promoting urban food resilience.
- Fun activities for the kids including an Eat Your Hat parade.
- Displays and demonstrations on:
– Urban bee keeping and native bees
– Worm farms
- Award winning revegetation examples by Nerang River Keepers.
- Tours of the Nerang Community Gardens.
- Stall holders, delicious food and more!
So mark your calendars and come along for a fun day and stay for a picnic in the park. We look forward to seeing you there!
Organic produce at market: stockpic via pexels.com CC0
National Organic Week Logo: National Organic Week Australia Media Kit
People at the markets: Fotoworkshop4You via pixabay.com CC0
Aerial photo of organic farm: Markus Spiske raumrot via pexels.com CC0
Crate of produce on table: jill111 via pixabay.com CC0
Paper shopping bag, with hand holding greens: Foundry via pixabay.com CC0
Eat Your Backyard log and event flyer: CC4G EYB Action Hub Team
Photo of Jerry Coleby-Williams: ©Jerry Coleby-Williams press kit
Garden gate made of gardening tools: HOerwin56 via pixabay.com CC0
*This article also features on Hills to Headlands, for Gecko – Gold Coast & Hinterland Environment Council.