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We help you understand everything organic – from food to pesticides and fabric to beauty products – so you can make an informed choice.

When it comes to living, eating, buying, wearing organic, how much do you really know? As a busy parent you may just want is a bit of time to sit down and research the what, why and “where do I get that from?” so you can make an educated decision before going all out for organics.

It’s not easy because, if you’re going to make any real kind of change to your family’s world, it’ll have to be more than simply switching your brand. You will also need to encompass the way you choose to live your whole life.

What is organic?

Firstly, let’s get an understanding of what it means. Animals reared in the organic setting are not given antibiotics or growth hormones. The organic production of food, linens and clothing is done without using pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, genetically-modified organisms and ionising radiation. Ionising radiation is an invasive method that sterilises food by destroying insects and parasites in produce, inhibits crop sprouting and delays the ripening of fresh fruits and vegetables, thereby extending their shelf life.

Live it

There is ongoing debate around whether certified is always better than uncertified organic. Is Joe Soap doing enough by purchasing his delicious, organically-certified British potatoes (complete with plastic and Styrofoam wrapping)? Could he be doing more (by thinking outside of the packaging, if you will)? Those certified British potatoes have travelled far, were more than likely flown to get to you, and are leaving a heavy carbon footprint on the environment, unlike the potatoes you could be picking up at your local produce market.

Exchange the fancy supermarket potatoes for the dirty, rugged-looking market ones and you run the risk of losing that sought-after organic branding. However, the market potatoes from the farm down the road have a lighter carbon footprint and will cost less. The industry producing locally for home consumption is growing, so why not make use of it?

So where in your world do you start?

your offspring

As parents, your number one reason for any decision you make is that it must be best for your children. Children receive up to four times more exposure than adults to cancer-causing pesticides in foods and are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of these repellents owing to their small size, developing bodies and brains.

your kitchen

Organic food is arguably more nutritious and contains more antioxidants, fewer additives and antibiotics. It is not genetically modified and, therefore, reduces potential health risks. In addition, the  food tastes better.

your garden

Grow and feed your own organic garden so that it can, in turn, feed you with pesticide-free herbs and veggies.

your cellar

“Wine made from organically-grown grapes without any added sulphites” is the definition of truly organic wine. Making wines without sulphur dioxide is difficult to achieve because it often makes the wine very unstable in quality. As a result, there are very few wines of this nature available.  However,  although many wines may have 100% SO2 presence, the product can still be 99.9% organic because the winemakers address the important issues that conventional viticulture may overlook.

your fabrics

Organic and eco textiles cover a wide range of natural and recycled fibres. Certified organic fabrics are grown in controlled settings with no pesticides or herbicides being used.

How do organic products earn their stripes?

We asked Dr Ian Robinson, the managing director of Go-Organic for his feedback.  The short answer is that “producers or growers are checked for integrity or legitimacy, if you like”. In other words, all parts of the production process (going back as far as possible) have to be proven to be of organic origin, namely certified. Any piece of equipment has to be “sterile” before being used for the production of organic ingredients. This will ensure that there is not contamination of the elements by toxins or conventionally-produced product.

The South African beauty market’s organic and natural sector has little regulation. Organic products should be certified, but, if they are not, look out for a list of natural ingredients. True organic, personal-care products do not contain preservatives such as methyl or propylparabens.

Lucille Kemp