Everyone of us can change the world every day - for better or worse. The easiest way to give our own contribution is to think about how we are spending our money. Every little Euro/Dollar/whatever cent we spend supports a certain business branch!
I personally see all my daily expenses as a political act and ask myself : which food- and textile production, which source of energy do I want to support?
Where do the products I’m consuming come from? This question bears a great responsibility, we should be aware of and consciously teaching to our children.
Where did the potatoes for my fries grow? How did my apple ripen? How lives the cow, whose milk I’m drinking? What was fed to my roasted chicken? Has the pig, the speck is made of, that I’m currently eating, ever seen the sunlight?
But: we are only able to answer these questions with a clear consciousness of the whole production process of the products we are consuming. WTF! I have no idea of all the processes in food industry! So, what can I do?!
In this globalized world, it’s a great advantage to know the farmer, who is bringing the food to your table. It is a invaluable source to the quality of your life. Because if you know the farmer, you know the process.
So you may think now: ok! I can try to get to know some vegetable farmers in town/at the borders of my city. But who will introduce me to the coffee farmer?! And you are right! Here is the point where the labels come into our lifes. An organic certification label on a product helps us to know a little more about the producing process.
Organic. Of course!
Organic agriculture means producing in harmony with nature. To try and recognize/identify the ecologiocal components and their relations in order to protect the balance of the system as a whole. Quite often humans act looking at a short time perspective and don’t recognize the consequence of their actions longterm. Nature and soil in contrast have a very long memory, the wrong doings of one generation can live on/take their toll for decades.
The philosophy of organic producers consists of trying to avoid these mistakes as much as possible. There is no recipe, everybody finds their own way, but exactly this is the goal. Organic is a process and a continuous development: a few decades ago, there were few walking this path, while now there are more and more joining in. A couple as a reaction to the growing market of certified organic products, and others discovering boundaries of conventional agriculture.
The ”Weltagrarbericht” suggests a global agriculture based on small farms to ensure the worlds nourishment sustainably. The organic agriculture in South Tyrol is a excellent example for this and is supported by many consumers of local organic products.
European organic certification
Since 1991 we have standard regulations on organic agriculture: if the producer wants to sell the products as organic, he has to certify his company according to the current norms. Therefore is a declaration needed, to be enlisted in the national register of organic companies, whilst an independent point of control checks/inspects regularly, if all standards are met. The consumer can recognize the certification in form of a symbol on the label: a green rectangle with white stars, building/painting a leaf with the control number of the company added.
Organic certification consorzio?
Many organic farmers do not believe the European rules are strict enough. Therefore they join different organic certification associations, which follow not only the European standards, but have their own set of stricter rules. These are also checked on/controlled by an independent checkpoint. For the consumer these mostly local certifications are recognized by a different kind of symbol: Alternativer Bauernverband, Bioland, Demeter, Naturland… The guidelines of each association vary in the details, but have the same basic rules: preservation of soil fertility, reduce energy consumption, healthy food products with a high nutritional value and animal welfare.
History of Bioland in South Tyrol
In the late 70s, some farmers from South Tyrol began farming organically as an alternative to the conventional and increasingly chemical agriculture. This environmentally sustainable system of agriculture had to endure many attacks: many organic farmers have been accused of being an enemy to progress, today though they are seen as pioneers of innovative economic niches. The consumer rewards this: the demand of certified products is steadily increasing. Today the part of organic agriculture which produces apples in South Tyrol is at 13,8% and about 7,7% of the vinyards are certified organic (as of 2020)
--> This article is the prolog of my little travel guide "All organic! South Tyrol" (ISBN 978-3-85256-689-4), which I wrote in 2015/2016 in german for the publishing house FOLIO.