Organic, More than a Fashion?


In the past ten years or so, organic shops have sprung up in bourgeious bohemian “bobo” areas of cities. From the Pâquis neighborhood to Geneva to the Marais district of Paris, no tea room is without its organic coffee nor market without its 100% pesticide-free lettuce. And now organic is taking over our supermarkets. At present, one out of ten Belgians consume it on a regular basis.

What Is Organic?
According to European Union regulations from 1991, in order to be awarded an “organic product” certification, the farmer must rule out pollution risks by using neither chemical fertilizer nor pesticides and by clearly separating his field form that of his neighbor. He also has to select species that don’t require much water and to practice crop rotation and use natural fertilizers. To make sure of this, the product is followed from the field to our plate. But according to EU conditions, the organic standard also means that production takes into account social criteria that promote partnerships and sustainable development. So an organic product is not only 100% natural, but also fair.

What Are The Health Benefits?
At present, it’s difficult to answer that question. There are a number of controversial debates within the scientific community. Some will say that an untreated piece of fruit provides fewer micronutrients and would therefore be less worthwhile from the nutritional point of view. Today, eating just organic food would not provide any extra benefit to health. Yet a QLIF (Quality Low Input Food) study carried out in 2001 showed that organic products did have a 30% higher nutritional quality than those produced by conventional farming methods.

“To Eat Organic Or Not To Eat Organic, That Is The Question!”
Despite the debate, one thing’s for certain, organic has fewer pollutants. Eating organic, for example, means eating a diet that’s completely free from chemical products and residues. In fact, the accumulative effect of chemical residues can almost certainly have a harmful impact on health. Pesticides are reported to cause diseases affecting the hormone production system. It is also claimed they cause problems such as sterility and congenital malformation. So eating organic seems to be a positive thing to do.

But there are still two very regrettable things: how backward Europe is in this field and the high prices charged, which make this kind of product difficult to afford.