Monday, December 21, 2009

Have yourself an Organic Christmas

An Organic Christmas is a wonderful starting place to plan your perfect seasonal celebration- healthy, environmentally friendly and delicious. Who could ask for more?

Support your planet, your community and your health with an organic, locally sourced Christmas dinner.

Organic farming typically uses 27 per cent less energy than non-organic agriculture. Organic farmers avoid using climate-boosting artificial fertilisers and pesticides, thereby reducing carbon dioxide emissions, producing less dangerous wastes and protecting wildlife on farms. Instead, they use natural processes such as energy from the sun to fix nitrogen in the soil, crop and livestock rotations, using natural predators for pest control and focusing on animal welfare which reduces the need for drug treatment.

Research from the Soil Association shows that 68 per cent of people in the UK want to avoid food grown with pesticides (over 300 are routinely used in non-organic farming, compared to only four allowed under Soil Association organic standards). Eating an organic Christmas dinner means people can avoid consuming pesticide residues, GM ingredients or unnecessary food additives.

Eat meat with the highest levels of animal welfare.

Get to know your local turkey or goose farmer this Christmas. Organic turkeys are free-range and spend their lives running about in the open air, this is reflected in the quality of the meat. Try to make sure your ham is free-range too!

More carrot in your Christmas carrots

Organic brussel sprouts, carrots and other vegetables have higher levels of vitamin C, more minerals and cancer fighting antioxidants than non-organic varieties. There is considerable evidence that, on average, organic fruit and vegetables contain higher levels of primary and secondary nutrients than non-organic food. An independent review of the evidence in 2001 found that in general organic crops had significantly higher levels of all 21 nutrients analysed compared with conventional produce; including vitamin C (27% more), magnesium (29% more), iron (21% more) and phosphorous (14% more).

Artificial fertilisers used in non-organic farming increase the water content of vegetables, which dilutes their nutritional content. A warming lentil and tomato soup will provide great nutrition during the festive season and a University of California Davies study found 79-97 per cent higher levels of flavonoids in organic tomatoes; the researchers stated that these antioxidants have been linked to reduced rates of cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer and dementia.

Eating delicious organic roast potatoes like the Sebago and Desiree varieties means you can avoid pesticide residues. In 2003, the government tested 144 potato samples for the residues of the pesticide aldicarb (used to kill worms and insects in non-organic farming; classified by the World Health Organisation as 'extremely hazardous'). Nearly two per cent had detectable levels, which suggests over 25,000 tonnes of potatoes may have been eaten containing pesticides.

From your roast potatoes and brussels to your cranberry sauce, make sure your Christmas dinner is loaded with all the right nutrients.

Christmas stuffing - read the ingredients on the label.

One of the key ingredients in Christmas stuffing is the egg so make it an organic one. More and more people are choosing organic eggs and the combined sales value of free range and organic eggs exceeded that of cage eggs for the first time last year. Animal welfare organisations recommend that organic eggs are the best alternative to intensively produced eggs. Compassion in World Farming Trust said, "Organically reared chickens must have plenty of space, space to run, to scratch and dust, to spread their wings, to enjoy the open air and the sun on their backs, and generally behave naturally. Organic standards guarantee all this and more for all organic eggs. This is why Compassion in World Farming Trust rightly says that organic eggs are the animal welfare-friendly alternative to battery eggs."

Only 32 of the 300 food additives approved for use across the EU are permitted in organic food. Controversial additives like aspartame, tartrazine and hydrogenated fats which have been linked to health problems such as heart disease, migraines and hyperactivity, are banned in organic food. Choosing organic ingredients means you can relax and enjoy your Christmas meal knowing you aren't harming your body with unwanted extra ingredients.

Getting into the Christmas spirit.

Indulge guilt-free with the huge range of organic wine, beers, ciders and spirits available, which are kinder to the planet and kinder to you. Organic wine is produced using a natural system of farming and limits the use of sulphur to control fungus. Organic regulations also limit sulphur dioxide which is added to wine as a preservative. On average organic producers use just one quarter of the legal maximum of sulphur dioxide allowed for non-organic wines, which appears to lessen the chances of a hangover.

Organic beer is made from organic malt and hops. The average non-organic farmer is estimated to spray hops up to 14 times each year with an average of 15 pesticides. Organic spirits are available through specialist suppliers and some supermarkets. The main difference lies in the use of organic raw materials, non-organic vodka is made from grain produced in systems usually reliant upon multiple applications of pesticides and artificial fertilisers

Where have your nuts been?

The globally sourced nut bowl appears on most people's coffee table at Christmas and they are certainly a healthy treat. Yet, pesticide residues were found on 29 out of 48 non-organic samples of nuts tested by the government's Pesticide Residues Committee in 2004. Residues from methyl bromide were found, which is banned from organic food and used to kill rats, mice and other pests while non-organic nuts are in storage.

To reduce your food mileage this year, why not choose nuts that are grown in Australia such as macadamias, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts

Gift giving

* Give a gift that makes a difference - and lead a planet friendly life style! Give your family and friends a child to sponsor from World Vision or perhaps buy someone in need a crop of vegies.

* Organic health and beauty products There are hundreds of health and beauty products available but look for the Organic Certification stamp of approval - currently health and beauty companies are not legally required to obtain organic certification to make organic claims!

* Local, organic box schemes Sign a friend up to an Organic Empire local organic box scheme for a few weeks in the New Year and help reduce food miles! Fresh, seasonal, locally grown organic food delivered to their door will provide all the nutrients they need to feel great in the New Year.

* Organic food hampers Introduce a friend to organic produce and buy them a luxury organic food hamper full of seasonal produce such as red cabbage, sprouts, cheese and vintage chutney. We will pack your gifts in re-usable hemp, jute or organic cotton carrier bags - think about all the plastic bags you'll save in the New Year.

* Organic chocolate Organic cocoa bushes are grown without the use of pesticides. Our certified organic chocolates tend to contain more cocoa solids than non-organic chocolate and does not contain hydrogenated fat, which is known to be harmful to health. Further more, the soya lecithin will never be made from genetically modified organisms. Give the gift of chocolate this Christmas, sans pesticides!


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