Stats out today show that organic food sales have risen by 1.7%, in effect a decrease in the amount bought as food prices rocketed last year - to even stay the same as 2008 sales would have to have gone up by 6%.
The Soil Association's 2009 Report (see link below) shows the brakes coming on after years of huge growth - by 20% in the years up to 2006. The total amount of organic food sold was £2.1 billion in 2009.
So are organic very much off the agenda in the current economic climate?
Other figures: supermarkets account for more than 70% of organic sales, while over 90% of organic produce is imported. Also, the amount of land devoted to organic fruit, flowers and herbs has dropped by 20% since 2006.
Should we be depressed by an apparent move away from small-scale, locally grown organic food, in what could be a long-term trend?
for me, there's organics as in pick-your-own at the farm or as in buying from a local shop or farmer's market; and then there's organic as in premium-priced product at supermarkets that I don't trust not to shaft me. The former I am all in favour of; the latter, I remain cynical about.
I think these days people are more concerned about provenance and seasonality than whether something is certified Organic. The fact that the supermarkets have such dominance in the organic market, and that so much organic produce is imported really puts me off. Surely the key thing right now is to support local agriculture, which in turn feeds local economies and aim to be as ethical as possible? I tend to buy my veg from the local street market – because it’s usually in season and comes from British farms. That way I pay less and get the benefits of fresh, seasonal food that hasn’t been sitting around in cellophane wrapping and flown all the way from Kenya – plus I’m supporting local market traders and farmers.
Thats true organic is just used as a marketing exercise by supermarkets. But there are good organic farmers that supply locally - dont all tar them with the same brush.
I have only buy organic on occassions and tend to look out for where the product has come from when shopping in supermarkets. I would love to shop at my local farmers' market, but they are often in the week, when I am at work!
What a load of rubbish. Most farmers' markets are at the weekend. I can name five off the top of my head on either Sat, Sunday
We find that in our supply for schools and hospitals, people are much more interested in whether the food is local - who's made it, where it comes from -rather than whether it's organic. Organic was great, because it made people aware of just how many chemicals were being chucked on the countryside, how much food was pestitude-rich. But now, in the current economic climate, organic is seen as a luxury. Whereas people used to use it as a badge of honour, to promote their greeness, now it's seen as not being necessary, particularly if they know the grower or producer the food comes from. There's also a kind of money-saving logic in food coming from sources nearby. People can key into the idea of saving on transport and major distributional channels to get food from source to plate, and I have to say - long may it continue.