Posts

Teaching Organic ?

An organic gardening programme is set to be rolled out by Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board across Irish schools. The problem is that it can’t really be organic. It can however be about growing and considering the earth and our actions. This is a programme that will include my child and yours and I personally am not sure I wish for her to be thought gardening under an organic label based on what I have unearthed.
The question further remains as to whether organic is actually better than ‘ordinary’ or home grown vegetables. The problem is the variance in beliefs of what organic actually is, the fact that legislation makes ordinary foods extremely safe to eat and the fact one can actually use chemicals and non-organic seed, yet still be labelled organic.
The Bord Bia slogan ‘organic – good for nature good for you’ has been ruled against in its using by the ASAI [advertising standards authority of Ireland]. However, the EU has a new ‘organic farming‘ slogan – ‘good for nature good for you’.
Ciaran Cuffe of The Green Party disagrees in commentary below.
update: I recorded this podcast Monday evening 12th July – as a result of the comments and responses to this post.

————————————————————————————————————————————————

The following email hit my inbox today:

...

BORD BIA GOES ORGANIC IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS

MAY 2010

VIEW PROJECT: VIDEO FILES COMING SOON

Gorilla has just completed all audio post production for Bord Bia’s newly launched organic gardens DVD for primary schools across Ireland.

The DVD is an educational package that shows how pupils and teachers alike can convert their school grounds into organic gardens to grow their own vegetables! The DVD also explains some of the main benefits of eating organic food over processed food and moreover provides excellent opportunities for pupils to bring their learning outside of the classroom! The programme was shot over a 2-year period and includes 3 case studies in Dublin, Kildare and Ardee in Co Louth.

Then I did a bit of reading and found this from page 8 of the teaching resource that comes with the DVD: www.bordbia.ie/aboutgardening/organicgardening/Documents/teachers_resources.pdf

Realise that synthetic fertilisers and pesticides are harmful and should be avoided if possible.

also on pg. 9:

Teachers Notes: Organic horticulture is the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants by following the essential principles of organic agriculture in soil building and conservation, pest management, weed, and disease control, and heritage species preservation.

It is a form of agriculture which excludes the use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, plant growth regulators, and genetically modified organisms. Organic gardeners rely on crop rotation, green manure, crop residue and compost to maintain soil productivity and control pests. It is an ideal way to teach children to respect the environment and introduce them and their families to healthy eating.

also the entire document is headed with the logo:

Organic: good for nature, good for you

Looks like someone is trying to convince the wee nippers that if something is organic its great!….it is of course as you know a little more complex than that (e.g. organic food imports etc, etc).

That aside this email had come in 2 days previous:

Bord Bia have just changed all their organic food logos on their website to a leaf, gone are the “organic : good for nature, good for you” logos…….maybe you could ask why the change?

But, you see this email had come two weeks ago:

was sent this…..looks like the misleading Bord Bia campaign cost 1 Million euro half of which was paid by the Irish public…….hardly money well spent

February 2009
Report by Simon Wright, Organic and Fair
…Lorcan Bourke of Bord Bia in Ireland explained how the the Irish Department of Agriculture funded half the campaign, allowing match-funding to obtained from the EU and giving a total budget of 1 million Euros. After consumer research the slogan chosen was ‘ Good For Nature, Good For You’ (see the campaign at www.bordbia.ie/aboutfood/campaigns/Pages/NationalOrganicWeek.aspx ).

from: http://www.organictradeboard.co.uk/news/
(bottom of page)

I had also received an email on May 18th. It was signed by the ASAI and noted that:

Subject: RE: Organic Food Claims

Bord Bia have agreed to withdraw the claim.

But as can be seen from the first page of Bord Bia’s schools education programme [above] it still exists.

...

I don’t hold issue with anyone who goes green or encourages others to do so, especially at such a young age. I applaud it. But like I have said previous – sometimes ‘organic’ has it’s pros and cons.

I felt/ feel the ‘organic issues raised in this superb shop‘ are still incorrect. Not balanced…. call it what you like – but not right when it seems all things organic are groovy [?].

I have spoke on the logic of growing your own before. That versus the fact that 99.9% [not a researched figure] of farmers do not use fertilisers on their potatoes, although they may not be certified organic…

The point that I make is that encouraging children is fine as long as logic applies. In context, I would rather my child chop an old [rotten looking] sprouting potato in half and plant it in the garden [using no compost] than drive to the garden centre to buy seed potato [possibly imported – from another county even] and organic compost – for organics sake.

In which case, I’d prefer my child, in primary school be thought ‘logic green gardening’ as versus ‘organic’ or not to be thought this subject.

To get a gist of what people believe organic is, I asked the following question[s] on twitter this evening: what do you believe organic means? The responses were as follows:

  • Grown naturally without man made pesticides & fertilisers
  • Grown from non-GM seeds, without use of chemical (man-made) pesticides, fertilizers etc. My take anyway.
  • fairly broadly i take it to mean non gm, and free from artificial fertilizers and pesticides.
  • organic is grown without herbicides, pesticides, fungicides etc. or if meat – no growth hormones on organic feed
  • Grown sustainable without pesticides or herbicides in soil which is free of both substances at least for 8 years. No artificial fertilizer!
  • organic: not reared with, or on, land where artificial fertilisers are used.

I then asked: which is better. Locally produced/ grown veg or organic ? The reponses were as follows:

  • 1. Both. 2. Local. 3. Organic.
  • that depends on how you define better, organics flown half way round the world not great ecologically but Irish bananas prolly not great 🙂
  • locally produced
  • I prioritise fresh produce, which more often than not means local as the time betw farm & shop is shorter, but believe organic is best.

To that I note these forms where one can apply to be able use certain chemicals – yet still be labelled organic.

http://iofga.org/certification-and-members/forms/

The numbers of those granted such derogation are not published. The derogations that can be applied for can include the use of non-organic seed and copper sulphate [for example].

In search of a definition of organic…. I went [back] to the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association Website

What Is Organic Food?

Organic food carrying the IOFGA logo has been produced to the highest standards. It is produced according to organic farming principles which are committed to working in harmony with nature rather than against nature. Organic farming works within the natural confines of the farming eco-system to provide you with great tasting food!

In practice organic farming;

  • Avoids the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides
  • Requires the highest standards of animal welfare
  • Does not permit the use of genetically modified organisms
  • Uses less fossil fuel energy per calorie of food produced
  • Protects our biodiversity by maintaining suitable habitats for plants, animals and wildlife
  • Encourages people to buy their food locally and in season

When you see the IOFGA logo on organic food you can guarantee that this product has been inspected and approved to meet the organic standards. Organic farming in Ireland is the one system of farming which is fully certified and regulated and we in IOFGA are proud to see so many high quality products carry our logo.

But the reality is one can apply to use chemicals…. right ? I would also point to the 10 reasons IOFGA give as to why one should buy organic food. I’ll skip straight to point 10

10. Good for nature, Good for you

Which I assume they also are not allowed to say [?]. I also still do not know exactly by definition/ legislation from either sites what organic is.

It seems there is vagueness in what organic actually is [exactly] and more-so to that people’s understanding of. The argument as to whether it’s better to balance the books [so to speak] is [pardon the pun] simply more food for thought. ie. whether it’s better to shop local as versus organic and not necessarily local. There is also a point where from a marketing perspective that organic labelling does sell [see above compost image]. Even the farmers markets in Ireland have their flaws as I discussed in my last post. The question I guess still remains of what methodology is better and also from an educational point the information that is being thought.

Maybe Green Party minister Trevor Sargeant has the right idea….? But then he is wearing a GIY t-shirt. Grow it yourself that is. Not organic. Big difference.

UPDATE: 7th July 2010

The above podcast replaces this one.

Also this Organic leaflet 2010 Food Safety Authority of Ireland seems logic enough. Although still lacking definitions in my opinon.

Bord Bia and the IOFGA have been informed of this post.

UPDATE: 9th July 2010

Got this from Ciaran Cuffe of The Green Party

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/files/eu-policy/logo/FAQ_logo_en.pdf

which is headed with this logo and slogan [see below]. I’m confused – Bord Bia cannot use the same slogan as the EU can a similar slogan… On second look, the EU have used the word ‘farming’ ? Cheeky 😉

I have emailed this to the ASAI [advertising standards authority of Ireland]

...

Donabate Allotments

...

I was talking to Trevor Sargeant at another gig. Trying to find a time that suited us both to meet we settled on meeting at the allotments in Donabate on Saturday morning. However which way it happened we missed each other.

I took a walk around anyway and I have to say I was very impressed with the enthusiasm that was literally brimming out there…. phenomenal 😉

Some were just getting started, others had just short of set up home there…. I’m looking forward to heading back in a few months time to see the transformation form what at the moment is just the beginning of what I can only say is something amazing.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Donegan Landscaping Wins 2009 Award

peter donegan dublin landscaping awards

February 6th 2009 saw Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd win the 2009 Bord Bia Quality Award.

It is in recognition of standards achieved under the Bord Landscape Quality Programme for 2008/2009. This is the second successive year for Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd to win the landscape quality award.

Donegan Landscaping is one of only eight Irish landscaping companies to win the award this year. The event was held at the Sheraton Athlone Hotel and hosted by Minister of state Trevor Sargeant.

I would like to thank the entire Donegan Landscaping team for all of their hard work of the last 12 months.