What does “organic” actually mean?
According to the experts at the Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), organic food is “ the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products produced from or by GMOs are generally prohibited by organic legislation.”
In other words, it's a more “natural” way of producing crops and rearing livestock. It means fewer chemicals in foodstuff, meaning fewer chemicals in the consumer's system. Organic farming is also about environmental sustainability (pesticides and artificial fertilisers can pollute local waterways and damage local wildlife.) Organic farming methods produce better quality foods. For example, organic meat comes from animals who’ve been kept in much better conditions and fed a healthier diet.
But it's also about animal welfare. Although these animals are being reared as livestock, organic farming ensures they live their lives with dignity and respect.
Health benefits of organic food
A study at Newcastle Universty found that organic foods contain higher levels of antioxidants, which help prevent cancer, heart disease, and boost the immune system. According to the research, the levels of antioxidants in organic foods were 19-69% higher than the non-organic alternative.
Organic dairy also contains higher levels of omega-3, a healthy fat that contributes to brain, eye, and heart health. The study found that some organic food contains double the omega 3 of non-organic food.
5 Health benefits of organic dog
1# Better skin and fewer allergies
Organic dog food contains very few preservatives and additives, both of which have been linked to skin problems and allergies. Organic dog food has a higher nutritional value. This supports your dog's natural defence systems, which can then do a better job of fighting off allergies. The higher concentration of omega-3 oil can also improve your dog's skin.
2# Better gut health
Without all the added chemicals and artificial flavourings, organic dog food is much easier to digest. This reduces vomiting, diarrhoea, or just general bloating and discomfort.
3# Lowers the risk of obesity
Organic food is full of nutrients and good stuff. This means your dog is getting more nutrition from less food, and less food lowers the risk of obesity.
4# Quality of life
An organic diet will contribute to your dogs overall well being. The healthier they are, the more chances they have of avoiding short and long-term health issues. The less disease and conditions your dog has to fight, the better their quality of life!
5# Reduce the risk of cancer
Studies have suggested that exposure to pesticide increases the risk of cancer. Although there's no definitive or direct link, they do seem related.
Organic dog food
If you're thinking about changing your dog's diet, try and speak to a veterinary specialist first. Certain dogs have certain dietary need; there's no one size fits all diet for dogs.
It’s best to introduce new diets gradually. A sudden and complete change might upset your dog's system, so start slowly. Introduce a new meal into your dogs routine, give it a few days to settle, then introduce another one. Keep repeating until your dog is on a 100% organic diet. This will help your dog's system to adjust to the new foods, but you can also identify the source of any potential allergies or bad reactions.
The production and sale of dog food are regulated by the Food Standards Agency. Any company selling “organic” dog food must be approved by one of UK's organic control bodies. Once registered, they must follow a strict set of guidelines drafted under European law, keep thorough and accurate records, and be open to annual and random inspections. They must also adhere to EU Legislation on the labelling of organic products. This might change after the final Brexit deal, but, for now, companies must clearly label all food and avoid ambiguous or misleading language. Finally, any organic food must contain at least 95% of farm-grown organic ingredients.
The only way to guarantee a 100% organic diet is to purchase and cook all the ingredients yourself. This is likely to be more expensive and more time-consuming.
It's important to point out that some experts are sceptical about the quality of organic food and the extent of its impact on overall health. For example, humans who eat organic food tend to have a much healthier lifestyle. On average, they exercise more, smoke less, and are generally more health conscious. The same could be said for their dogs. However, studies have shown that an organic diet is linked to a longer and healthier lifespan in dogs and their humans. An organic diet might not be the only reason, but it appears to make a significant contribution to a better quality of life.