‘‘Organic’ means much more than just ‘natural’ foods. While organic is about producing foods naturally, organic is also a rigorous control and certification system, protected by law.
Organic methods work holistically: organic farming techniques consider the eco-system as a whole and use natural earth-friendly techniques to assist plant growth, manage pests and help the environment and wildlife blossom. It makes sense that a healthy rich soil will produce strong plants that can cope with pests and diseases. And because organic farming uses practices that eliminate polluting chemicals and reduce nitrogen leaching, it also protects and conserves our water resources for future generations.
Here's what the Department of Agriculture says about organic farming: “Organic farming requires: the consideration and application of production methods that do not damage the environment; a more respectful use of the countryside; concern for animal welfare and the production of high quality agricultural products”
Organic is the world's strictest food standard, and a certification system that ensures farmer's limit their use of agri-industrial inputs. So organic farmers do not have access to any of the synthetic pesticides conventional farmers can use: instead they use natural substances like garlic, and neem: they also use low impact techniques such as encouraging natural pest predators and rotating crops. GM crops and synthetic fertilisers are disallowed, as is the routine use of antibiotics.
Here at Glenisk, all the farms that provide our Organic milk and our plant itself is certified by IOFGA.
Organic milk comes from cows that eat mostly grass: that's grass in the fields for most of the year, and stored grass (as hay or silage) for parts of the winter. 60% of the diet must be grass or conserved grass (i.e. hay or silage) under the organic rules. This grass is grown without synthetic fertilizer. Certified organic feeds (grains, beans etc) can also be used sparingly to supplement the diet where necessary, but there are stricter limits on the amount of feed that can be fed to organic cows than are in place for conventional cows. So with organic milk, you can be sure the cows have had access to plenty of lush green grass, and that grass and hay are more a part of their diet than is the case with cows from any other production system.
Organic production also prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and toxic persistent pesticides.
It couldn’t be clearer – if we protect our land and animals, we are protecting the health of people for generations to come.
How do I know it’s organic?
An organic product must carry a registration number or certification mark to identify it as the product of an organic agriculture system. All organic products undergo inspection and certification by a certification body such as the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association (IOFGA), Organic Trust Ltd or Bio-dynamic Agriculture Association of Ireland.