We are an organic school. This means that all our produce grown or reared in school is produced using environmentally and animal friendly methods - or that ingredients we receive (such as for our school lunches) are all from organic sources!
Find out more below about why being organic is great for the environment and where you can eat organic in our local area!
What is organic food?
For foods to be labelled as organic, at least 95% of the ingredients must come from organically produced plants and animals. Any food product sold as 'organic' falls under the EU regulations 834/2007 and 889/2008. This means that the product must have been produced to these regulations and inspected and certified by a registered certification body, such as Soil Association Certification.
Because some ingredients are not available organically, up to 5% ingredients from a list of approved non-organic food ingredients are allowed. There are also a limited number of non-food ingredients such as salt, water, and a restricted number of additives and processing aids which are allowed, some of which are legally required (such as iron and thiamine in flour). All artificial colourings and sweeteners are banned in organic food.
There is an extremely strict list of permitted ingredients to ensure that nothing harmful or potentially harmful will be found in organic food. The labels on organic products must identify the organic and non-organic ingredients in the ingredients panel in the same colour, size and style of lettering as the organic ingredients.
10 ways to eat organic on a budget
With a little shopping knowhow we can all buy more organic produce - here are 10 ways to eat organic on a budget.
1. Grow your own
You don’t need a garden and it takes little effort to grow a few pots of your favourite herbs and vegetables and it’s so rewarding. You can grow anywhere, on windowsills, on the porch, or on the driveway. Start with herbs as they can be so expensive to buy and take up little room. Try up-cycling your empty egg boxes into planters for seedlings and using old bean cans and milk bottles for plant pots. Find out more about growing your own...
2. Eat less meat
Meat is at the top of my priority list when it comes to buying organic. Organic certification from the Soil Association not only certifies that the meat is organic but that it is high welfare. Meat is expensive, buy less and make vegetables the centre of attention. When you do buy meat buy cheaper cuts like shoulder and belly, they take longer cooking but are often tastier than the prime cuts.
3. Reduce waste
The average household wastes between 20-30% of their food, through mismanaging the larder, over buying, and poor storage. I see this as a budget for buying better quality and organic food. Make sure you use your oldest meat and vegetables first and build your meal plan around those ingredients. I keep a draw in my fridge for the oldest produce and rotate the produce into it before it gets cooked.
4. Buy in bulk
Buying some produce in bulk can help you save money in the long run. Bulk buy products are often cheaper. Stick to pastas, pulses, dried foods and vegetables that have a long life like potatoes and onions. You can also buy whole animals butchered for a good price. Freeze them in portions and cuts and defrost as necessary.
5. Buy seasonal
Produce is cheaper when it is in season. Firstly because it hasn’t had to be shipped halfway across the world and secondly because it will be more abundant. As you know I base all my recipes around seasonal produce for this reason as well as the superior quality. Use this excellent seasonal chart as a guide when shopping...
6. Cook from scratch
Convenience foods are more expensive than cooking raw ingredients from scratch as long as you look after your ingredients and use them sparingly. I like to cook extra portions of food that I can eat for lunch the next day or freeze for use in the future.
7. Know the ‘Clean fifteen’
The Environmental Working group have released a list called the ‘clean fifteen’ naming the least pesticide ridden vegetables. If you can’t afford to buy all organic then these fruit and vegetables are the best non-organic produce to buy – avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
These are the best to avoid: apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes.
8. Join a local organic box scheme
Local box schemes are not always the cheapest option but they will normally compete with the prices of organic supermarket produce. They will provide a good base of ingredients for the week, save you time shopping and support local farms. If they give you an option to, buy a veg box without potatoes. This will give you a larger variety of ingredients. Imported organic produce costs a lot more so avoid boxes that use imported produce. Find an organic box scheme near you...
9. Create an organic buying group or co-op.
Club together with other people interested in buying organic produce and set up a co-op. Here’s some info on how to set up a co-op by the Soil Association. This will give you buying power, as you will have a larger spend. It will also allow you to buy from co-operative wholesalers such as Essential-trading and Suma co-op. Co-ops are a really resilient model for business and working together that can also save you money as an individual.
10. Shop wisely and avoid supermarkets
Organic food is seen as a premium product and can be over expensive for this reason. Supermarkets are guilty of this, so it is best to avoid them. Supermarkets normally have their prices available online, note down the cost of the products you normally buy and price check them with online organic shops, farmers market and greengrocers to find out who has the best price.
Buying direct from farmers
Many of us are concerned about our food and the global food industry. Our existing patterns of food production are not fit for a low-carbon, resource constrained future. And yet, because of the globalisation of our food supplies in recent years, it is not always easy to buy locally produced food on the high-street. Wholesome, nutritious food is essential for our health and wellbeing.
Buying local organic food from a local producer can be a life-affirming experience, and the benefits of local food are clear:
- It's good for the environment - less road and air transport, less packaging, less pollution, less waste
- It's good for your local economy - it keeps money in your local area, creating jobs and businesses locally and giving farmers a bigger cut of the price-tag you pay
- It's good for your community - making links between people in urban areas and the countryside
- It's good for your health - fresher food, with improved nutrient levels, containing fewer contaminants
Support your local farmer
You can support your local farmers directly at a time when they need a loyal secure market by seeking out local food whenever you shop. Despite there sometimes being a paucity of local produce in supermarkets and high-street grocers, the growth of local food networks in recent years has started to rebuild some of the local food infrastructure that previous generations would have taken for granted.
Organic box schemes are now available across the country and deliver fresh seasonal produce direct from the grower delivered to your door or to a central pick-up point. Farmers' markets have also sprung up around the country, giving the opportunity for you go enjoy the colourful and relaxed atmosphere, talk to the farmer and take home freshly picked and produced food. Meanwhile there has been a renaissance in farm shops offering direct farm gate sales - many of the farms on our organic farm network feature shops and cafés. And if you want to go a step further and get more involved in supporting your local farm, a new concept called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is springing up across the country where members of the public invest in their local farm in return for a share in the harvest. Follow the links below to find out where to find out where you can buy local food from your local farmers:
Find an organic veg box scheme
Veg box delivery schemes are a great way to get fresh, healthy, organic fruit and vegetables delivered straight to your door, and some allow you to collect your box from a convenient location instead if you're not at home much.
Visit an organic farm
If you would like to find out more about organic food and farming, why not visit an organic farm? The Soil Association has an extensive network of more than 100 farms across the UK who run special visits, open days and other public activities. New farms are joining all the time, and we have members who can show you everything from walled vegetable gardens to remote hill farms and even a vineyard.
Farms in your region
Find a farm in our region: