What does organic mean and why is it so important?

Everything Pukka makes is 100% organic certified and always has been. Every tea, latte and supplement we make contains only the finest ingredients with every pack carrying the Soil Association organic certified logo. But to us, organic is a way of being – not a way of badging. And if you want to know more about Pukka and all that we stand for then sign up to The Pukka Collective - it's free to join.

So what does organic mean?

Organic is a virtuous circle. It regenerates the soil that feeds you. It sustains and encourages the wildlife and insects that support our living world. It produces food without the harmful chemicals that affect us and our planet. It’s this idea of a benevolent cycle of goodness that make organic principles so special to us.

At its heart, organic means working with nature, not against it. It means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment.

In many ways, organic farming embodies the essence of Ayurveda – the ancient Indian philosophy that flows through the heart of Pukka. Like Ayurveda, organic wisdom centres on the wellbeing of the ‘whole’; it is a way of reconnecting people with the soil, the plants, and the planet – because they’re all equally dependent on one another for their health and happiness.

Why is organic food and farming important?

In the face of climate change, rising diet-related ill-health and widespread declines in our wildlife, the need to produce healthy food, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and protect wildlife grows more acute by the year. There’s no magic bullet to tackle the challenges that face us, but the buying decisions we make every day are a simple but powerful form of direct action. That’s why all our teas and supplements are certified organic by the Soil Association – a guarantee that when you buy Pukka you are making a little difference to people, plants and planet.

Organic vs non organic

A question that people often ask us is "Is organic better?"

The benefits of organic are far reaching. There are numerous robust studies that show organic farming not only benefits the planet, but also can benefit people's health and wellbeing, the welfare of the animals and the quality of the plants we grow. Below is a list of differences between organic and non-organic methods:

  • Less of the bad stuff - Over 320 pesticides can be routinely used in non-organic farming and are often present in non-organic food. These pesticides and artificial fertilisers used in non-organic farming methods can also pollute waterways
  • Knowing what’s in your food - Food labelled as organic must meet a strict set of standards which define what farmers and food manufacturers can and cannot do in its production. Because being organic means being fully traceable from farm to fork, we know all our farmers, and have even helped many of them go through organic and Fair for Life conversion
  • Kinder to animals - Organic means the very highest standards of animal welfare. Organic animals are truly free range and are reared without the routine use of drugs, antibiotics and wormers
  • Better for our planet - 10% of greenhouse gas emissions come from farming, that's why it is essential we opt for farming methods that work with nature, not against it. No system of farming does more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, or protect natural resources like fresh water and healthy soils than organic farming. It is estimated that 52% of the world's soil is degraded, but organic farming puts soil quality at the heart of its endeavours, which is vital as soil is a huge carbon store (UK soils hold an estimated 9.8 billion tonnes of carbon: equivalent to the global carbon emissions made by humans in one year!), and studies have shown that organic farms were often found to have up to 26% more long-term carbon storage potential than conventional farms. 
  • Combating climate change - The impact of switching to organic farming could save 64 million tonnes of carbon over 20 years across all UK cultivated land - the equivalent of taking nearly a million family cars off the road
  • Better for you - Organic foods have no artificial colours, preservatives, or genetically modified (GM) ingredients. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition, conducted by researchers at Newcastle University, in 2016  found significant differences between organic and non-organic farming. It showed that organic milk and meat were found to have roughly 50 per cent more omega-3 fatty acids than their non-organic equivalents, and a previous study in 2014 also found that organic crops were up to 60% higher in key anti-oxidants, and had lower levels of the toxic metal cadmium, than conventionally produced crops.
  • Better for wildlife - Organic farms are havens for wildlife and provide homes for bees, birds and butterflies – there is up to 50% more wildlife on organic farms compared to non organic farms
  • Better for farmers and the economy - A study by The Soil Association has shown greater profitability of organic compared to non-organic farming, which can only be a good thing to allow our farmers to thrive and avoid the huge price pressures which are continuing to put a lot of UK farmers out of business. The same research also finds that organic farmers tend, on average, to be younger, and more women are involved in organic.

Why is organic more expensive?

Putting the planet first does often mean producing organic food involves more rigour, that doesn't always mean it's more expensive to buy, especially if you are smart about how you shop, and you might be pleasantly surprised next time you do a price comparison. The times when organic does cost more, just remember you’re paying for all the care and benefits (listed above) that organic brings.

Tips for buying organic on a budget

Buying organic food doesn't have to cost the earth. With a few creative lifestyle changes, organic can become affordable for those on a tight budget:

  • Shop around - A large amount of UK supermarkets have their own label organic ranges, which can often be cheaper than non-organic branded products. There is also a wide variety of online organic retailers and of course your local grocers or farmers’ market are a great way to find the best deals.
  • Buying staple foods in bulk 
    Buying store cupboard essentials like organic pulses, pasta, rice and wholegrains in bulk can often save money.
  • Seasonal food
    Eating locally grown organic produce when it’s in season in the UK can help reduce costs, a quick look online can tell you what food is in season when. It's also good for the environment, as buying local seasonal organic foods cuts down the air miles of the foods we consume
  • Join a delivery scheme
    Organic box schemes are very convenient and cost-effective way of getting fresh, local and organic produce delivered straight to your door.
  • Make time to cook
    There is often a premium when buying convenience food (which can also be highly processed), so cooking meals from scratch can be much more cost-effective. It will require some planning ahead but you can often freeze any surplus food, which in turn can help reduce your food waste
  • Grow your own
    Hopefully our organic heroes in the video have inspired you, but you don't have to have a big allotment to grow your own food, you can grow organic herbs and vegetables in the smallest garden space

What is an organic certification?

Because we believe so strongly in the wonder of organic methods, everything we do – from the fields where our herbs are grown (in sustainably managed certified organic projects), to the organic string we use on our tea bags – has organic principles at the core.

As a result of this passion and drive, we’ve committed to organic certification from the Soil Association, the UK’s founding and leading organic community.

This means that all of our ingredients are certified to EU organic standards and are traceable back to their origin – not only giving you the reassurance that you are getting the very best quality, but also connecting you – through us – with the growers and the farms on which the plants are grown.

So why should you become an organic hero?

Ultimately, the more people who switch to organic, the greater the positive impact it will have on the planet and our lives. As the great Mahatma Ghandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

Switching to just one extra organic item really can help contribute to changing our food system for the better. Demand for more organic food means more organic farms. More organic farms mean fewer pesticides, more wildlife and more animals raised under the very highest standards.

To help you on your journey, sign up to The Pukka Collective for free to access tailored wellbeing advice and to learn more about our mission to make business a force for good in the world.

You may think what you do is all that special, but it makes all the difference. Together with the Soil Association, we want to celebrate these everyday heroes, who, just by going about their daily lives, are driving for change and working to help deliver a better future for all of us. See our three celebrated organic heroes here.

Pukka stories