Australia's largest and most recognised industry powerhouse for organics, Australian Organic, is celebrating all things organic during its annual Australian Organic Awareness Month (AOAM). This month the team behind the -Bud' logo is shining the light on a booming industry, which is being driven by the nation's health concerns as well as the environmental impact.
A national survey conducted last year, revealed that organic food has a firm foothold in Aussie shopping baskets, with more than two out of three households purchasing organic products in the last year.
As consumer consciousness grows, buyers are becoming more aware of the hidden nasties that can be found not just in the traditional food and beverage categories but also in other products like the cosmetics we wear and use. The nation's personal health concerns being identified as the key driver for consumers to switch to organics is cited in the 2017 Australian Organic Market Report.
Championing the importance of making the switch to certified organics is AOAM Ambassador, nutritionist and chef, Teresa Cutter (The Healthy Chef).
'As a nation, we need to make a deeper commitment to healthy living – whether that is our own bodies or the external environment – because products containing chemicals have the ability to deplete ourselves of health and vitality.
This month is also about highlighting the accessibility and affordability of certified organic products as well as the importance of certification and looking for a trusted mark – like the Bud logo – when purchasing organic products." said Cutter.
Across the globe in the US, renowned food activist, media personality and wellness warrior Vani Hari (aka The Food Babe), has built an international following by challenging large food manufacturers and industries to clean up their act. Vani is a long-time advocate of the global organic movement and is on a mission to enlighten consumers about what's really in our food. Alongside high profile AOAM Ambassadors Teresa Cutter, Magdalena Roze and Emmily Banks, Vani has joined Australian Organic in support of the industry.
'In Australia, you have the largest holding of organically certified land. This is incredible and you should all be so proud! There are so many reasons to shop organically – and not just in the food aisle. You owe it to yourself to take a hard look at what you choose to eat every day and how it can affect your health."
In a recent article, Vani unpacked the case for organics and how it impacts people and the planet through the use of GM seeds, chemicals and unsustainable practices.
Earlier this year, the Australian Organic Market Report revealed Australia officially holds the largest amount of organically managed farmland in the world at 53%, however, this is still not enough to meet growing demand locally.
Other key findings driving growth include:
18% of shoppers say the trigger to make the switch to organic was a health crisis/issue affecting themselves or their family
Top three perceived benefits of organics are chemical-free at 83%, additivefree at 75% and environmentally friendly at 65%
The number of consumers who have become more aware of the impact of food, fibre (textiles) and cosmetics on the environment has risen from 32% in 2014 to 41% in 2016
Organic producers, processers and handlers have grown from 2,567 in 2014 to 3,751 in 2016 (up by 46%), with producers representing the largest group in Australia (2,075)
Weighing into the Australian Organic Market Report is a national consumer survey conducted by Mobium Group LOHAS (Life Styles of Health and Sustainability Australia) with 1,024 households polled over one week in June 2016.
Key LOHAS survey findings, include:
Personal health for the buyer and their family is the strongest driver for organic product purchases in 2016
85% of all shoppers say an organic certification mark on a product would have influence on their purchase decision
The Australian Certified Organic (ACO) Bud logo is the most recognised certification mark – 46% of Aussie consumers recognising this logo in 2016
Australia's organic industry is now valued at over $1.72 billion as per the 2014 Market Report (excluding exports of organic raw and processed products), demonstrating that the consumption of certified organic food, cosmetics and household products continues to grow. By 2018, the total value is anticipated to exceed AU$2 billion.
AOAM is held each September and is the biggest event of the year where the organic industry highlights, promotes and supports the products, brands and retailers who proudly wear the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) Bud logo. It's all about raising awareness and protecting the interest of the consumer, because the Bud logo is the best way to guarantee a product is truly organic. The Bud logo now appears on most Australian certified organic products.
Australian Organic Month runs from 1-30 September 2017.
For further information about Australian Organic please visit http://austorganic.com/.
Question: What message do you hope to spread this Australian Organic Awareness Month?
Teresa Cutter: My message I hope to spread is that as a nation, we need to make a deeper commitment to healthy living – whether that is our own bodies or the external environment – because products containing chemicals have the ability to deplete ourselves of health and vitality. This month is also about highlighting the accessibility and affordability of certified organic products as well as the importance of certification and looking for a trusted mark – like the Bud logo – when purchasing organic products.
Question: What originally inspired your passion for organic products?
Teresa Cutter: I guess the inspiration behind it, like most of what I do at The Healthy Chef, is my great Polish Aunt's cooking. I grew up with her meals made from pure honest wholefoods from her garden and I'm passionate about sharing my fuss-free yet delicious and healthy way of cooking and baking, just like her.
Question: Why is it so important that we buy and eat organic products?
Teresa Cutter: I always try to source organic fresh food and vegetables where possible, as well as grass-fed poultry and meat. I don't compromise on quality and taste, so by choosing organic I know that I'm eating foods that contain the highest absorbable nutrients available. Organic food is not just going chemical-free, it's taking a holistic approach to your health. Not only will you feel better from eating certified organic, but you'll be contributing to healthier skin, hair and nails, as well as a healthy body.
Question: How does switching to organic products change our health?
Teresa Cutter: Going organic ensures that I am fuelling and nourishing my body with the highest quality foods available. This means my body can get the most out of the nutrients from nature's foods for optimal health and wellbeing.
Question: Are there certain products that you'd encourage us to eat the organic options more so than others?
Teresa Cutter: It's important to nourish your body with plenty high antioxidant and alkalising foods so I would encourage people to buy organic fruits and vegetables if it's available to them. I love foods such as leafy greens, pineapple, avocado, cabbage (organic makes the best sauerkraut) bananas and berries are always on my shopping list.
Question: Can you share your top five organic products for our pantry?
Teresa Cutter: Nuts and seeds. I always use raw nuts and seeds to make homemade nut and seed milks for my smoothies as well as the most amazing roasted almond butter. I make pumpkin seed milk for my matcha lattes and the high zinc content in pumpkin seeds are great for your sex drive!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil. A good bottle of olive oil is always in my pantry. I use it liberally in my cooking, over salads and it's wonderful straight in the morning with a glass of lemon water as it helps with elimination.
The Healthy Chef Matcha Tea. This is a beautifully energising drink I take every morning. Studies have shown Matcha has the ability to boost your immunity, control your stress and assist in weight loss. Matcha Tea is the champion of green tea. One bowl of Matcha tea is equivalent to 10 cups of green tea – it's a powerful, green tonic to revitalise the body and mind. Matcha is particularly rich in catechins, a powerful flavonoid shown to have antioxidant, anti-cancer and heart protective properties. It also contains high levels of L-theanine, a unique blend of amino acid, to help reduce stress and anxiety. Our Matcha is ceremonial grade, meaning it is of the highest quality.
The Healthy Chef Organic Pea Protein Powder. This is the perfect plant-based protein I use in my smoothies. I've designed it to be the purest form of protein supplement available on the market. Everything I've tried was full of junk and cheap fillers that caused bloating and weight gain, the total opposite of what I wanted, so I was compelled to create a protein supplement that really was good for me and provided the perfect nutritional support I needed.
The Healthy Chef Organic Wheatgrass. My 100 % Australian Certified Organic Cold-Pressed Wheatgrass Juice Powder is a great way I start the day. It is gluten-free and works as a natural anti-inflammatory, it can help to support gentle detoxification, sustainable weight loss, radiant skin, improved digestion and optimum health.
Question: Do you have an organic recipe you could share?
Teresa Cutter: Raw Superfood Salad
250 g kale (choose from curly kale or Tuscan flat leaf cavolo nero)
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch mint, chopped
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
Juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch sea salt
2 tablespoons cold pressed olive oil
125 g fresh blueberries
1/2 small ripe pineapple, peeled and chopped
2 handfuls almonds – your choice raw, roasted or activated. I love using tamari almonds that I've roughly chopped
1 handful pumpkin seeds
4 tablespoons cold pressed olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh grated or ground turmeric
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon raw honey
pinch sea salt and black pepper
Wash kale and remove the tough inner stem.
Shred the leaves and place into a large mixing bowl.
Add a little salt, pepper and the juice of 1 lemon plus the olive oil.
Massage the the leaves for 1 – 2 minutes or until the kale has slightly collapsed and softened.
Add the spinach and fresh chopped parsley and mint.
Add pineapple, blueberry, pumpkin seed and almonds then pour over a little turmeric dressing.
Toss through gently until the aromatics are evenly distributed through the salad.
Divide between serving bowls and enjoy.
Interview by Brooke Hunter