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National Organic Week

§ Food & drink

Something not often borne out in these pages is that I love to cook. Part of the pleasure of cooking is working with fine ingredients which is why I choose to tell you that this week is national organic week in the UK. Consumption of organic food has doubled in the UK over the past three years, and I’m certainly one of those consumers, particularly when it comes to meat and normally pesticide-laden produce such as lettuce.

There are fine ethical reasons for buying organic meat. Animals kept on organic farms are reared to rigorous standards of welfare, have natural feed and are not kept as cooped up together. This means that far fewer antibiotics are required (and thus fewer enter the human system). I will concede, however, that I’m also willing to pay the premium for organic food because it tastes much, much better, as does the free-range meat from my local butcher.

In the UK, the populace have rejected genetically modified food. GM products are banned from organic food which may be a reason why (as I understand it) organic food is not taking off in the US, where GM crops are widespread. On this note, there is an anti-GM march in London this Monday – the Tractor and Trolley parade will be passing DEFRA, 10 Downing Street and the NFU.

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden and are considering growing organic fruit and veg in it, then the organic group HDRA provides useful advice for doing so. If chocolate’s your bag then Green & Black’s, organic chocolate makers extraordinaire, have some great recipes on their site.

Due in part to lack of research investment, 70% of organic food consumed in the UK is imported. You can eat locally grown organic produce thanks to the Soil Association’s directory of organic box schemes where farms deliver boxes of fresh seasonal fruit and veg (and some do meat, bread, wine and wholefoods too). Brightonians could do worse than checking out Infinity Foods, an organic supermarket in the North Laine.