Thursday, 11 February 2010


Patrick of Bifurcated Carrots often writes of the lack of meaning for the word organic in Europe these days, as regulations are loose and agribusiness continues to rely on monoculture. Here in Australia things are, thankfully, quite a bit different and I think we can be reasonably confident that biodiversity is an integral part of organic certification. Here is an excerpt of the latest edition of the Biological Farmers of Australia free online newsletter:

Biodiversity and biological farming; a natural partnership

.............Major independent studies have confirmed organic farming actively contributes to better levels of biodiversity at every level of the food chain than non-organic systems. Organic agriculture is proving that we not only must, but can, have our environmental cake and eat it too.

A major pillar of organic production, and the vanguard of biodiversity protection, is maintaining a rich diversity of plant and animal life as the basis for the health of crops, farmed animals, the environment and the community, which are all inextricably linked.

Under the Organic Standard, management decisions must take into account impact on native flora and fauna and hydrological considerations, embracing protection of shelter belts, corridors, wetlands and remnant vegetation protection.

All forms of environmental pollution – chemical, genetic and physical – must be minimised and non-renewable resources must be conserved.

Rob Bauer, a fourth - generation farmer on his Queensland property in the Lockyer Valley, inherited land that the original European settlers had been obliged to clear – and keep clear of regrowth – by government dictates.

Rob converted the property to organic farmland thirty years ago and since then he has seen a marked change in the diversity and populations of native animals and vegetation on his land.

Repair of much of the existing environmental damage was assisted by an ongoing co-operative venture between Rob and Landcare which began in 1985. On a demonstration block in a previously degraded area more than two hundred rare, endangered and “interesting” native trees were planted. Rob carried the concept through the whole farm, which now has, interspersed with the cultivated fields, flourishing native bushland which is home to innumerable native animals, birds and insects, as well as providing shade, shelter and fodder for farmed animals.....

I also thought this comparison was interesting:

Australian organic avoids elitist attitude

A slow in the growth of organic sales in the UK has prompted prominent organic certifier and charity organisation, the Soil Association, to voice concerns consumers now see organic as a high-brow and expensive alternative.

.........However, an organic choice for many Australian organic consumers is not only about money - it’s about understanding and appreciating inherent value. Organic food represents environmentally-friendly food production, without synthetic chemicals or genetically modified ingredients, a focus on animal welfare,  etc and those are values more people are taking an interest in and willing to support, regardless of their socio-economic status..........

Read more of these articles by subscribing to the monthly Organic Advantage E-zine.


Patrick said...

Wow, it sounds like European organic farmers have a thing or two to learn from the Australians!

chaiselongue said...

This sounds great, Kate. But also, in France (I don't know so much about other countries), while European legislation may not be strong enough, the food producers I've talked to are very concerned with the environment and the quality of the food/wine they produce and conscious of belonging to a tradition of looking after the land which goes back centuries, usually in their own families. That last paragraph could have been written by some of the cheese, meat, fruit, vegetable and wine producers whom I've spoken to and from whome we buy produce, and consumers here agree. Remember Monsieur Domingui and his pruneau farm, for instance.

Kate said...

Yes C-L, those small scale farmers in France are wonderful custodians of the land and producers of food grown as naturally as is possible. If only the big producers in other parts of France and the world could follow those same traditions. On the trip to Paris I saw the same huge monocultures as are the curse of the planet.