Site bioprodukte gesundheit deOrganic agriculture relies on the harmony of soil, animals and plants. Here you can find background information. Shopping tips for organic food.
– The words "organic" and "eco" are protected by law. All foods marketed in the EU under these names are subject to strict regulations and controls that cover the entire production chain. – You can recognize organic food by the EU organic logo or the state organic seal. – In addition, there are nine other organic labels from different farming associations.
Almost three quarters of all Germans buy organic food at least occasionally. At the top of the list of reasons is the species-appropriate animal husbandry. The regional origin and the lower load of pollutants are also important to customers. Often organic food is also bought because people want to eat healthy and the producers do without many additives. Four out of five organic customers believe they are helping to protect the environment with their purchase. But is this also true? Do organic farmers, organic processors and their food meet the expectations of customers? In the following, we answer the most important questions about organic foods.
Bio – what is different?
Organic farming sees the farm as a holistic system of soil, plants, animals and people. The farmer should manage this system in a closed-loop fashion to minimize the need to add nutrients and other inputs from the outside while maintaining soil fertility. This is why organic farmers are only allowed to keep as many animals as they could feed with the yield of their land. This requirement is called area binding.
Organic farmers do not use artificial fertilizers, i.e. no synthetic chemical nitrogen compounds. They fertilize with manure, slurry and vegetable compost. In addition, they regularly grow legumes, which are plants that accumulate nitrogen in the soil. Organic farmers do not use synthetic chemical pesticides against weeds, plant diseases and pests. Instead, they rely on varied crop rotations and robust varieties. They promote beneficial organisms. Regulate the weeds with the harrow. Natural or traditional pesticides are allowed. Organic farmers must keep and feed their animals in a way that is appropriate to their species.
How to recognize organic food?
Foodstuffs may only be called "organic" or "ecological" if they have been produced in accordance with the rules of the EC regulation on organic farming. At least 95 percent of the agricultural ingredients are then organically grown. A recognized organic inspection body verifies that the producer has met all the legal requirements that apply to organic farming and processing. The code number of the inspection body can be found on every organic food product.
For organic products controlled in Germany, the code is DE-oko-0XX, where X stands for a digit. The EU organic logo is displayed above the code number. Most organic products in Germany also bear the hexagonal state organic seal.
Wherever it says "organic" on the label, it's organic on the label
The words "organic" and "ecological" are protected by law. All foods marketed in the EU under these designations are subject to strict regulations and controls that cover the entire production chain. Every organic farm gets a visit from its inspection body at least once a year and must provide detailed evidence that it is complying with the EC organic regulation: The farmer on whose fields the grain grows, the miller who processes it into flour, the baker who eventually bakes the bread from it. Only when all parties involved have worked in accordance with the regulations does it rightly become "organic" bread.
Phrases such as "from controlled cultivation" or "from environmentally friendly agriculture" are intended to give the impression that it is an organic product. Most of the time, when you take a closer look, you will notice that it does not bear the EU organic logo or the prescribed inspection body number, i.e. it is not an organic food.
Those who belong to a cultivation association are additionally controlled for compliance with the association's guidelines, which are even more demanding in many points. In addition, all farms are subject to normal food inspection. Even a good control system can be fooled with criminal energy. There are always companies that have declared conventional goods as "organic" – and have been caught. Every major case of fraud has led to improved controls. However, the vast majority of organic farms comply with the rules.
More information about organic food
Why is organically produced food more expensive than conventionally produced food??
Because organic farmers do not use synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides, they harvest less. They also cultivate about one-third of the land with legumes, which is therefore eliminated for growing plant-based foods. Organic farmers keep fewer animals, relative to land area. Feeding regulations result in longer fattening periods and lower milk yields. The cultivation methods are more labor-intensive and time-consuming, for example due to mechanical plant protection. Most farmers are small businesses. The marketing structures therefore not as effective. However, if food is purchased as directly as possible, with as little processing as possible, and seasonally adapted, the price difference is smaller.
Are organic foods better for the environment?
Organic farming has less of an impact on nature than conventional farming: the absence of synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides reduces the impact on groundwater. Less greenhouse gases are produced. Up to 40 percent less energy consumed. Organically farmed soil is generally healthier, richer in humus and can store more water. Organic areas are much more species-rich: Integrated hedges, ponds and orchards provide habitats for many plants and animals.
Is it ecologically sound to buy organic apples from overseas??
It is now known that a long transport route does not always mean a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.o.-Criterion for organic food is. Organic apples from overseas, for example, have a better climate balance in spring than local apples that have already been stored for half a year, because that also costs a lot of energy. However, this does not change the fact that organic products are best purchased according to the season and that preference should be given to products from the region.
What does vegan have to do with organic??
Those who eat a purely plant-based diet, i.e. without meat, eggs and dairy products, protect the climate. The production of its food causes only half as much greenhouse gases as the diet of an average German eater. Also, only half of the arable land is needed for plant food. A vegan nutrition style is therefore very environmentally friendly.
Cows use grassland
The organic movement has always advocated reducing the consumption of animal products. It was organic pioneers who introduced plant-based foods such as tofu to our markets. The supply of vegan organic food is large. But the classic organic producer is still the mixed farm that both raises animals and grows crops. Behind this is the idea of the cycle. The farm should produce the necessary fertilizer itself, if possible. In addition, ruminants convert grass into food that humans can use (milk and meat). After all, almost a third of Germany's agricultural land is grassland. Almost all organic farms that do not use animals also use animal manure to maintain the fertility of their soil.
Imagine if cattle, sheep and goats were no longer kept in Germany! Many landscapes would be unrecognizable in just a few years, because there would be much less pastureland. Vegan is good – but organic farming needs animals.
Does organic protect the climate?
To produce the same amount of food, organic farming uses about a quarter to a third less energy than conventional agriculture. Correspondingly less CO2 is released. The difference is particularly great in the case of plant-based foods. The most important reason for the energy saving is the renunciation of energy-intensive mineral fertilizers. At the same time, this reduces the emission of nitrous oxide from overfertilized soils. Nitrous oxide heats up the climate far more than CO2.
Because organic cattle are fed differently, give slightly less milk and produce meat more slowly during fattening, they emit more methane per liter of milk or kilogram of meat. But this is offset by the savings in carbon dioxide. Nitrous oxide more than compensated. The climate is also helped by the fact that organic animals need far less feed from overseas. Because the demand for soy from conventional agriculture is endangering the rainforest.
The soil also protects the climate
On organically farmed land, the amount of humus increases due to the large amount of organic fertilizer used. It binds additional CO2. This counteracts the greenhouse effect. Humus gives the soil a granular structure and stability. As a result, it stores water like a sponge, mitigating the effects of climate change, increasing floods and droughts.
Do organic foods taste better?
Because organic farmers do not use easily soluble synthetic fertilizers, fruits and vegetables grow a little slower. A nice side effect: it contains up to 20 percent less water, so it often tastes more intense and has a better texture. The old, almost forgotten varieties that organic farmers like to use are often more resilient. Some people also like them better than modern new varieties, but taste is also determined by location, weather and ripeness. Whole-grain products, more common in organic bakeries, taste stronger than those made with white flour.
Without added flavors
Processed organic foods do not use many additives and most flavors. Some flavors are allowed, but are rarely used. Cultivation associations are particularly strict. Have banned the addition of flavorings altogether or limited them to individual products. That's why organic foods occasionally taste a little different than conventional ones.
Organic margarine lacks the typical added butter aroma. Fruit yogurt and other products taste more subtle because of the lack of flavors. Whether consumers view such differences positively depends on what taste experiences have shaped them. Yeast extract is allowed, but some consumers think this is deceptive. This ingredient contains natural glutamate. Has a flavor-enhancing effect.
Are organic foods healthier?
There is a lot to be said for this:
Nitrate can produce carcinogenic nitrosamines during cooking or in the body. Vegetables that come from organic fields tend to be lower in nitrates than conventionally grown ones. However, the nitrate content of lettuce or vegetables depends not only on the type of cultivation but also on other factors.
Organic products are – if at all – far less contaminated with pesticides than conventional ones. Organic grains tend to contain slightly fewer mold toxins. There is little difference in other pollutants that are common everywhere, such as lead in the soil.
Because they contain less water, organic apples, potatoes and co. more nutrients. They also tend to provide more vitamin C and are significantly richer in phytochemicals (antioxidants) that protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease. Milk and meat from organic farms have a nutritionally more favorable fatty acid composition, especially when there is a lot of free range and pasture feeding. A recent study by researchers from several European countries confirms these benefits.
Is organic also fair and social? The EC regulation on organic production prescribes the following for the economic. Social action of organic farms no standards before. The organic associations also have few regulations in this regard. However, many companies that have been producing organic products out of conviction for decades also place high demands on themselves in the social sphere.
In the 1980s and 1990s, organic pioneers set up projects in developing countries to produce coffee, cocoa and bananas organically. Fair prices as well as long-term. Partnership-based trading relationships were common. But with the growth of the organic market, they lost importance. Organic food from overseas therefore often does not meet fair trade criteria. However, this is guaranteed by the Fairtrade logo if you find it on a product.
There are organic farms that work with handicapped people and organic processors that have received awards as particularly family-friendly employers. Compared with other sectors, there are significantly more such committed companies among the organic companies, especially in the specialist organic trade and among the brands sold there. For the consumer, however, this commitment is not necessarily recognizable.
Does organic help the environment?
All land cultivation interferes with nature. However, organic farming affects them far less than conventional farming does.
Better water protection
Because they avoid easily soluble mineral fertilizers, organic farmers reduce nitrate contamination in water and groundwater. The risk of pesticide residues contaminating the water is also reduced. Numerous municipalities therefore promote organic farming in their water protection areas.
More wild plants, insects, birds and mammals live on organically managed fields and meadows than on conventional land. Because organic farmers encourage beneficial insects and they do not fight wild herbs and insects with chemical-synthetic agents. Organic farms also often have more biodiversity among crops and animals in their barns.
Organic farmers promote humus formation and maintain soil fertility through organic fertilization and carefully coordinated cultivation of rotating crops. Because land commitment limits livestock, soils are not overfertilized. The renunciation of mineral fertilizers. Synthetic pesticides ease the burden on groundwater.
Organic from Egypt – should that be regional?
The high demand has two sides for German organic farmers. Although their products are bought from them. However, the prices achieved are often too low to make organic farming attractive for more farms. More and more often, organic food therefore comes from abroad, where it can also be produced more cheaply.
Most of it comes from Germany
Nevertheless, most organic food comes from Germany. The figure is 75 percent for cereals and around 90 percent for eggs. Only one-sixth of organic apples come from Argentina or New Zealand. For vegetables, Spain. Israel important supplier countries.
Onions from Argentina that carry the organic logo are also controlled goods that you can trust. Transport is by ship and is not as harmful to the climate as is often claimed. Whether an apple is imported from New Zealand in April or has to be stored in a cool place in Germany until then makes little difference to the climate balance. It is much more important to leave the car at home when shopping and to buy regional and seasonal products.
Where does regional end?
What is really regional is seen differently. For some, 100 km is too far away; for others, a product must at least come from their own state. It is not so easy to define binding criteria or legal requirements. That is why they are missing until now. The "Regionalfenster" (regional window) is a voluntary label. It guarantees the customer that the statement made in the window is correct, such as "Milk from Hesse, bottled in 35039 Marburg".
Must online retailers have organic products inspected?
The ECJ ruling
The decision of the European Court of Justice for reading at curia.europe.eu
Retailers can escape controls if they sell organic food directly to end consumers. Because if they neither produce the goods themselves nor import them from third countries, the controls of the producers and processors are sufficient.
The situation is different for online retailers: According to a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the application of common reporting and control regulations is justified for them. Because there is a risk that goods could be relabeled, switched or contaminated. However, consumers must be able to rely on the fact that all criteria of this label are actually fulfilled in the case of organic foodstuffs.
Organic farming associations in Germany
On many products you will also find the labels of the farming associations such as Bioland, Naturland or Demeter. Their standards are stricter. Go well beyond EU law in many respects.
Bioland is the leading association for organic farming in Germany. About 7.300 farmers, gardeners, beekeepers and winegrowers work according to Bioland standards. In addition, more than 1.000 partners in production and trade, such as bakeries, dairies, butchers and caterers.
The framework for farming in harmony with nature is provided by the seven Bioland principles for the agriculture of the future. This includes the promotion of biodiversity and active climate and environmental protection as well as social aspects, z.B. The creation of jobs, fair trade partnerships or the preservation of living culture in the countryside.
Demeter-Members work according to strict guidelines of biodynamic agriculture, based on the principles of anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner. For example, animal husbandry for the production of biological fertilizer in the sense of a closed ecological cycle economy is obligatory. Demeter was also the first organic association to ie a guideline for plant breeding. Founded the okologische Tierzucht gGmbH together with Bioland. About 1.500 farmers in Germany are affiliated with Demeter, plus 330 Demeter producers, processors and trading partners, and more than 500 Demeter partner stores.
Naturland e.V. belongs with 54 worldwide.With more than 000 producers in 52 countries, Bioland is one of the largest organic farming associations in the world. At the center of all Naturland standards are a holistic approach, sustainable management, practiced nature and climate protection, safeguarding and preserving soil, air and water, as well as consumer protection. It also covers areas that are not regulated in the EC Organic Regulation, such as e.g.B. the ecological use of forests, textile and cosmetics production or social aspects.
With the additional certification Naturland Fair, the association combines the strict Naturland organic social standards with its own standards for fair trade.
network, which has grown since 1979, of the Biokreis e.V. includes 1.200 farmers and 200 processors and consumers each, mainly in Bavaria, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia. The aim of Biokreis is to promote close regional and fair cooperation between stakeholders according to ecological principles and to keep farming viable.
Biokreis has established guidelines for forests, hotels/gastronomy and pet food, as well as the seal "regional& fair" and is a pioneer with the "100% organic leather" project. Prerequisite for Biokreis certification is the complete conversion of the farm to organic agriculture.
Biopark e. V. was founded in 1991 in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and is active nationwide. The association stands for certified organic agriculture without compromise. Biopark guidelines require total farm conversion, outdoor exercise, grazing and on-farm forage. Tethering is strictly prohibited. Basis for animal feed. Biopark products are local Biopark raw materials.
Biopark farms primarily farm in nature reserves. With the project "Agriculture for Biodiversity" Biopark members are committed to the preservation and enhancement of biodiversity in grassland, fields and other landscape elements beyond organic farming practices.
The Gaa e.V. Founded in 1989 in Dresden. Has its main focus in the new federal states. 350 farmers and numerous companies from processing and trade are affiliated with the association.
Specialized farms, for example for herb or berry cultivation, seed propagation or pond management, characterize the diversity of the Gaa association, from smaller horticultural and classic family farms to cooperatives. Aspects of nature conservation and social guidelines have been fixed components of the strict Gaa standards from the very beginning. Gaa e.V. has been IFOAM accredited since 2003. Thus internationally recognized as an organic certifier. V. has been IFOAM accredited since 2003. Thus internationally recognized as an organic certifier. has been IFOAM accredited since 2003 and is thus internationally recognized as an organic certifier.
Ecoland was founded in 1997 by a handful of farmers in Hohenlohe, Germany, and today encompasses 1.300 producers with projects in Germany, Romania, Serbia and India. Focuses on the cultivation and marketing of organic natural spices, bread grain, sugar beets, soybeans and other legumes, as well as species-appropriate meat production.
The Ecoland guidelines demand ethically justifiable and sustainable management in harmony with nature and the preservation of the regional cultural landscape. The focus is on practical relevance, dialogue with farmers and openness to scientific findings.
The Association of organic farms e.V. is an organic farming association based in the Magdeburger Borde. It was founded in 2007 and is mainly active in the new federal states of Germany. They work in accordance with their own guidelines for production, processing and special areas of agriculture; such as z. B. Beekeeping, mushroom cultivation and pond management. This includes regulations such as the ban on dehorning cattle. Higher requirements for the space needed by livestock.
The association has largely excluded genetic engineering and is one of the first German organic associations to prohibit the use of nanotechnology.
The ECOVIN Bundesverband okologischer Weinbau e.V. was founded in 1985 as the largest association of organic wineries in Germany. Around 208 member farms currently manage 1.619 hectares of vineyards in 11 German growing regions. The strict, constantly updated guidelines of the association, which go beyond the EU requirements, guarantee special quality and ecological consistency of the products bearing the ECOVIN trademark.
ECOVIN winemakers make an active contribution to nature conservation by conserving soil, saving water and creating a healthy ecosystem in the vineyard. Eco winemakers focus on the cycle of nature.
Where do organic animals and plants come from??
Organic seeds and young animals such as chicks or piglets must come from organic farms if they are available on the market. However, the breeding of the varieties and breeds used by organic growers takes place largely on conventional farms and is geared to the needs of conventional agriculture. But organic farmers need other crops. Plants that grow well without synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, that can defend themselves against pests, and that are as insensitive as possible to disease.
Seed-resistant varieties and long-lived animals
Organic plant breeding exists to produce these other plants, but it is still in its infancy. Their growers work exclusively with seed-proof varieties. From these – unlike hybrid varieties – new seeds can be obtained.
Organic breeders reject genetic engineering methods such as cell fusion to produce CMS hybrids or even the targeted cutting of genetic material using so-called gene scissors. Owners of organic breeds are not the big seed companies, but non-profit organizations.
Organic farmers want animals from organic breeding that are less trimmed for top performance. Instead, they need robust, long-lived animals that perform well on species-appropriate feed and do not immediately catch cold in the fresh air.