Consumers, brands and retailers will be celebrating all things Organic this month, as Organic Awareness Month takes place to raise awareness for organic products across a range of industries – including fresh produce, food and drink, cosmetics, skincare, household and laundry goods, and even baby foods – while also helping Australians to feel confident and self-assured that their organic purchases are truly organic.
Driving the movement and the switch to certified organics are health and environmental factors, with many Australians now thinking carefully about what they are putting into their bodies, the products they are using on their skin, and the effect this has on their health but also on the planet, with organic standards prohibiting the use of harmful synthetic agricultural chemicals like pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.
Findings released earlier this year by the organic industry's peak body, Australian Organic, and conducted by the University of New England, Mobium Group and Nielsen Research, showed an uptake in household food shopping allocated to organics, with now more than 6 in 10 Australian households claiming to buy organic in any given year..
"Our market report shows that there is a growing awareness, and purchase of organic year on year, which is fantastic to see," said Australian Organic General Manager, Sue Willis.
"Consumers, in particular millennials and those diagnosed with a health condition, are beginning to really appreciate the state of their wellbeing, and therefore turning to organics to support their health.
"This is really inspiring as ultimately, these millennials are shaping attitudes towards food that will cement as their purchasing power increases, and that they will then pass on to their own children now or in years to come," Willis continued.
Currently worth $2.4 billion, the organic market is booming. Australians are, per capita, the world's 16th highest spenders on organic products, averaging US$20.40 (A$26) a year per person, with Australia holding over 35 million hectares of land under certified organic management, accounting for 62 per cent of the world's organic farmland. In addition, exports to China and other overseas markets are taking off, providing huge opportunity for the industry.
Championing the Generation Y movement is author, nutritionist and health influencer Lola Berry, who attributes her health-conscious lifestyle to growing up in today's society where obesity levels are on the rise.
"For me, the organic path was about feeling good and nourishing my body with real foods and products that were free from toxins and chemicals, and made without synthetic colourings, preservatives and additives, which I know may have a harmful effect. I wanted to honour my health and feel the best I could feel.
"I definitely feel and notice a difference today – when I eat well, and eat foods loaded with quality nutrients, my skin is noticeably clearer, I sleep better, my immunity improves, and I generally feel healthy, energetic and happy," Berry said.
"Choosing to support certified organic means we are taking care of not only our own health but that of the planet – we are supporting organic farmers, producers and processors who are doing the right thing for our environment, our workers and animals as well as building a sustainable future for all Australians.
"To know whether a product is Certified Organic when shopping, I look for the Australian Certified Organic Logo – 'The Bud' which gives me the confidence that the product is 100% organic," Berry added.
Ms. Willis urges consumers to look for the trusted 'Bud' logo when purchasing organic products – this saves time browsing at the store and reassures that the product is 100% certified organic, so you can trust that you are purchasing an authentic organic product.
An organic certification logo increases the confidence of shoppers by showing them that the product is genuine and has been tested to be: free-range, not genetically modified, pasture-fed, water efficient and biodiversity friendly, as well as being free from synthetic pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics," said Willis.
Organic Awareness Month is held annually and is the biggest event of the year where the organic industry highlights, promotes and supports the products, brands and retailers who proudly wear an organic certification logo like the Australian Certified Organic "Bud" logo.
Australian Organic Month is on from 1-30 September 2018. For further information about Australian Organic please visit http://austorganic.com
Question: What message would you like to spread during Organic Awareness Month?
Lola Berry: I think if we can teach people that it's easier than they'd think to go organic then that's really exciting. You can get great organic produce not just form specialty health stores but local famers markets and even supermarkets. It's pretty empowering to know that you can vote with your dollar and if we start buying the products that we believe in; organic products which share our value system then anything is possible!
Question: What were the first changes you saw when you began your organic journey?
Lola Berry: I definitely feel and notice a difference today – when I eat really well, foods with the right nutrients, my skin is noticeably clearer, I sleep better, my immunity improves, and I generally feel healthy, energetic and happy. The biggest thing is my moods; I'm a much nicer person when I'm feeling vital and healthy.
Question: Why is choosing organic so beneficial, for our health?
Lola Berry: Knowing that what you are putting into your body is free from harmful pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics and chemicals was enough for me to make the switch. Going organic mean that you are avoiding the hormones added to meat and chicken, the pesticides and herbicides sprayed onto fruits and vegetables to make them last longer and to look shiny, and GMO ingredients added to stocks and sauces. For me, the organic path was about feeling good and nourishing my body with foods and products that were free from toxins and chemicals. I wanted to honour my health and feel the best I could feel.
Question: What's the difference between organic and non-organic produce?
Lola Berry: Always check the label and seek out the certification mark. In particular, look for Australian Organic's 'Bud' logo, otherwise another certification mark to ensure it is a genuine organic product. Every Australian Certified Organic logo displayed on organic products as a certification number unique to the producer or processor, so you know it has been tested to be organic. So you have to be a bit of a detective but its well worth it to learn about what you're putting in and on your body.
Purchasing products that carry the Australian Certified Organic logo saves you time at the store and reassures that the product will be: free-range, not genetically modified, pasture-fed, water efficient and biodiversity friendly as well as being free from synthetic pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics.
The Australian Certified Organic logo is only allowed to be displayed on products that are either Certified Organic or Certified in Conversion which means they have met stringent requirements, so you can trust that you are purchasing an authentic organic product.
Question: We're inspired! What are the first things we should switch to organic?
Lola Berry: Start small and eventually you will build up a pantry and fridge full of organic produce. For example you could start one week with fruit, then vegetables, then meat etc. Broccoli, berries, apples, pears and kale tend to be the worst of the bunch when it comes to heavy chemical use, so if I'm restricted to buying only some organic produce, I'm sure to always go organic with these.
Question: What tips can you share for those of us making the switch?
Lola Berry: Don't be too hard on yourself if you can't switch to organic 100% - take baby steps, one category / product at a time. It's all about the path towards cleaner eating in general, eating unprocessed, real foods that are as close to nature as possible.
If I can only buy organic on certain fruits and veg, I ensure it's those that are heavily sprayed with chemicals, compared to some fruits and veg that are not as dirty. Broccoli, berries, apples, pears and kale tend to be the worst of the bunch so I always go organic with these.
Ensure you look for the Certified Organic 'Bud' logo which is the certification mark to look out for when buying products to ensure they are genuinely Certified Organic. If a product claims to be organic but does not carry a certification mark, it's probably not.
Experiment with making your own foods! Some of my favourite things to make are organic trail bars, raw chocolate bars, muffins and other snacks. You don't have to buy the most expensive organic product – there are lots of affordable products stocked at supermarkets – like Woolworths Macro range.
Vote with your money – if you choose to buy organic, everyone gets to benefit – you are supporting local and organic farmers and creating more work opportunities for them, you are helping to save and benefit the planet and environment, and you are promoting a healthier lifestyle for yourself and your family. There are a lot of benefits from one small step.
Question: What's a typical day like, for you, at the moment?
Lola Berry: It changes all the time but the in starts with some kind of movement, at the moment its yoges or a beach run. Then comes a smoothie of some kind, I'm really lucky to own a smoothie Bar (Happy Place Lola Berry) so I love our signature green smoothie called Happy Place or the black detox made with activated charcoal first thing. Then it's usually emails, writing articles and a coffee, I spike my coffee with the medicinal mushroom called lions mane which is said to help with cognitive function. I'll often work from home or take meetings depending on the day. I snack on raw nuts and seeds, raw protein balls or some kind of healthy protein bar. I'll often whip up a salad for lunch and always add avocado (I'm hooked) then if I have the afternoon free I'll sneak in for an infrared sauna or oxygen therapy in a hyperbaric chamber. Then I often have an afternoon chai or turmeric latte, then end the day with some kind of cook up, at the moment it's salmon, avocado, sweet spud and brussels! Then I end the day with calming tea (chamomile, lemon balm and lavender combo). I wear blue blocker glasses (they help to block the blue light from out phones and computers which can disrupt our sleep) while I work at night then I'll red in bed or what an episode of carpool karaoke!
Question: What is your favourite organic skincare brand?
Lola Berry: Hmmm… so many goodies! I do love the KORA range, I love the mask you can sleep in, the rose mist toner and the new organic mineral makeup infused with crystals looks unreal.
Question: Can you tell us about your latest book, The Yoga Body?
Lola Berry: The yoga body is my new baby because it encompasses all of my passions. It's got yoges (that's my word for yoga) poses, and sequences. It's got meals inspired by Ayurvedic medicine (that's traditional Indian medicine). And there's even a bit on the yoga mind, we can learn a lot from yoga principles and teachings, it's so much more than just the asana practice.
Question: What's next, for you?
Lola Berry: I'm just going to follow my Dhrama, in yoga that means to follow ones purpose or passion. I believe in doing what you love so that's the way I love. Life's too short for anything else. The way I see it is this; you're the only person who can get you to where you're going and you're on the only person who can stop you. My goal is to dream so big it scares me and go after that dream no matter what!
Interview by Brooke Hunter