The birds and the bees: eat organic to protect wildlife

September 10, 2018 6:12 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Here at Naturally Good Food, we work in an eco-building in the middle of farmland, on the banks of the River Avon. We’re surrounded by wildlife – hares, stoats, swans, dragonflies, squirrels, bees, geese, birds of prey and farm animals – to name just a few of those we encounter every day. Perhaps it’s our unique location that makes us so hyper-aware of the existence of wildlife in the cycle of growth, harvest and consumption.

We’re huge supporters of the organic movement at Naturally Good Food. We’re one of the UK’s leading online retailers of organic products – we’ve had ‘organic’ at the heart of our business since we began, around two decades ago. We believe in organic food for its taste and its nutritional qualities, but also for its environmental credentials. This is food that is grown, harvested and processed in an environmentally sustainable way, maintaining the fertility of the soil and the cleanliness of waterways and the atmosphere.

We’re right behind the Soil Association

In our organic efforts, we’re right behind the Soil Association, the body which, in the UK, regulates and promotes organic farming. For them, too, wildlife is vital. Without the pollination provided by the birds and bees, we would have no crops – and no life. Without the organisms within the soil, we would have no fertility. Without the delicate ecosystems in every hedge, pond and field, in which tiny and much larger species co-exist, we would lose the cycle of fertility, growth and decay that drives our own existence. The Soil Association thus works hard to help organic farmers find the best ways to protect wildlife on their farms.

Managing habitats

A big part of this is through managing and maintaining habitats. On an organic farm, instead of ‘wildlife’ and ‘farming’ being seen as opposing forces, the habitats of wildlife are viewed as an integral part of the farm. Organic farmers carefully maintain areas such as hedges, field margins, banks, ponds and general grassland, making sure these are suitable and safe environments for a whole host of wildlife. (For instance, organic farmers don’t cut their hedges between March and August, to allow wildlife to thrive there during their breeding and growing seasons.)

Over the last 60 years, bees and other essential pollinators have lost huge amounts of their natural habitat, including around 98% of wildflower meadows. With habitat loss, some 75% of UK butterfly species have declined over the past decade, according to the Soil Association, and around one-half of other species. Organic farming, with its emphasis on protecting habitats, resets the balance.

Managing pesticides

The problem of pesticides – particularly those known as ‘neonics’ – has gained prominence in recent years, particularly with regard to their effects on honeybees and other pollinators. In 2015, according to the Soil Association, over 17,800 tonnes of pesticides were used on British farms to kill weeds and insects and to control crop diseases. These pesticides often kill not just the pest at which they’re aimed, but many other living things around the crop. Wildlife – from tiny micro-organisms, to much larger mammals – is harmed or destroyed.

A victory was secured earlier this year, when all neonicotinoid insecticides were banned for use on outdoor crops within the EU. Ideally, however, the Soil Association would like to see all manufactured herbicides removed from use on farms, as they are in organic farming.

Along with the maintenance of habitats, the restriction of pesticides on organic farms has impressive results. According to the Association, on average, there is 50% more plant, insect and bird life on organic farms than on non-organic, with organic farms home to 30% more species on average than their non-organic counterparts.

Shop organic with Naturally Good Food

We all need wildlife and we need it to be healthy and protected. We’re proud to support organic farming at Naturally Good Food – and we’re proud of our organic range too, which covers foodstuffs, toiletries and household products. Click here to shop organic with Naturally Good Food.

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This post was written by Yzanne

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