Supporting Organic Farming | Gelert Behaviour

I’m writing this watching three (very happy) old dogs chomping their way through an organic chicken carcass each. The slightly gruesome sound effects are outweighed by the dogs’ obvious enjoyment.

I feel very strongly about supporting organic farming, and was thrilled to learn that Cotswold RAW offer organic chicken carcasses and wings and use organic chicken in their complete meals.
In a perfect world, I’d like all my dogs’ food to be organic (and my own) but the reality is that this is really tough to achieve, as sourcing properly certified organic meat and produce in reliable quantities for consistent recipes is a big challenge for a manufacturer, not least from a financial point of view. “Next best” is to choose wild meats (rabbit, venison etc) as they are unlikely ever to have received any chemical treatments and are pretty sure to have eaten what they have evolved to eat.

There’s no doubt that there is a price premium to be paid for organic produce, and I am willing and (with careful budgeting) fortunate to be able to pay this, as I sincerely believe that the benefits are worthwhile. Dr Nick Thompson drew this to my attention in one of his very informative talks on nutrition,
A paper published as long ago as July 1997 in the British Food Journal states “A comparison of the mineral content of 20 fruits and 20 vegetables grown in the 1930s and the 1980s (published in the UK Government’s Composition of Foods tables) shows several marked reductions in mineral content. Shows that there are statistically significant reductions in the levels of Ca, Mg, Cu and Na in vegetables and Mg, Fe, Cu and K in fruit.”

This is the answer to a question in Scientific American in April 2011: “A landmark study on the topic by Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. Davis and his colleagues chalk up this declining nutritional content to the preponderance of agricultural practices designed to improve traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition.”
The benefit of organic foods was born out in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2014, after much debate amongst scientists.

People often don’t realise that organic farming focuses on the soil, maintaining the health of the soil in which crops grow, and those crops in turn feed livestock (and us, in some cases) and the livestock and remains of plants in turn replenish the minerals and bacteria that make soil healthy and productive. When I kept my own livestock, I tended them and the land where they lived in accordance with organic principles and gained healthy, happy stock and fields full of a wide variety of plant species (and lots of insects) as a result. The world could be a very different place if more land were managed in this way.

Organic livestock farmers strive to allow their stock as much time grazing in the way nature intended as possible. For cattle, this is slightly hampered by our British weather – fields would soon be demolished if cattle were grazing outdoors all year round, and they do appreciate shelter. Farmers are obliged to practise excellent stockmanship and only to use pharmaceuticals when there is no other means to maintain a high standard of welfare. This means that organic meat is unlikely to have a build up of the effects of medication and so this is another way to reduce the chemical burden on our dogs.

The advantages of choosing as much organic produce as possible are not only to my dogs’ health, but also to the environment. I feel it’s right to support organic producers wherever possible as a small contribution to preserving our planet for the future.

Morag | Gelert Behaviour