Go Organic

What it means to be organic?
Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people; relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, combining tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life in longer perspective. Farming and production is organic wherever no toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMOs are used, and no antibiotics or growth hormones are given to livestock. Organic Producers, including processors, undergo regular certification procedures by third-party inspectors to ensure products they offer at the market are organic and trustworthy for human consumption.

In September 2005 in Adelaide, Australia, the General Assembly of IFOAM - Organics International passed a motion to establish a succinct Definition of Organic Agriculture. After almost three years of work by a designated task force, a definition reflecting the four Principles of Organic Agriculture in a succint way was adopted in Vignola, Italy as follows:
Organic Agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic Agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.

Are chemicals and/or synthetic fertilizers used in organic farming?
No. In order to be certified as organic food products must be grown without using persistent pesticides. Organic farmers are prohibited from using most synthetic fertilizers. The soil remains healthy and fit for organic agriculture wherever manure, compost and other organic materials are used as fertilizers. A major part of synthetic fertilizers used in conventional farming ends up in ground and surface waters, polluting natural ecosystems.

Does organic agriculture rely on GMO?
No. Organic means GMO-free. GMOs are prohibited from production and processing of foods, which are organic.

Does organic agriculture use sewage sludge?
Conventional farmers oftentimes use sewage sludge as fertilizer. Sewage sludge includes anything that is flushed, poured or dumped into the waste water system. Yet, in organic farming using sewage sludge is prohibited.

Does organic agriculture rely apply antibiotics?
The overuse of antibiotics to foster growth in conventional livestock production has contributed to development of antibiotic-resistant strains of some dangerous microbes. Organic farmers can only treat livestock with antibiotics as a last resort for sick animals and the animals that receive antibiotic treatment lose their organic certification. This helps preserve the effectiveness of vital antibiotics for humans.

What about using hormones in livestock breeding?
Conventional farming regularly relies on growth hormones given to cows to boost milk output. However, these hormones are capable of impairing animal fertility and eventually lead to hoof disorders and abnormal milk, which has been linked to higher risks of cancer in humans.

Do organic farming and production help reduce human impact on climate? 
Organic agriculture is a means to treat our soil with more care. Healthy soil naturally retains photosynthesized carbon dioxide instead of releasing it back into the atmosphere, which means reducing the impact humankind has on climate changes.

How animals are treated in organic farming?
Organic farmers are required to accommodate the natural behavior of animals and meet health and wellness requirements, such as year-round access to the outdoors, space for exercise, clean and dry bedding, clean water, shelter, and direct sunlight for their livestock.

How nutrient are organic products?
Studies show organic fruits, vegetables and grains contain more antioxidants, fewer nitrates and cadmium and fewer pesticide residues than non-organic crops, which makes them more nutritious.

Is organic food more expensive than conventional food?
There is a widely spread misconception that organic food is more expensive. In fact, the cost of producing food organically is considerably lower than the cost of conventional production. Consumers in many developed countries with higher demand for organic products do pay more also due to more rigorous production standards, and the costs of certification, among other reasons. Yet, in developing countries uncertified organic food is generally cheaper to produce and sold at the same price as conventional food. This is because organic agriculture increases the productivity of the total farm agro-ecosystem and reduces the amount of purchased external inputs needed.

Across the globe, money invested in organic agriculture is money well invested. There is a growing understanding that organic agriculture reduces farm costs in the long-term by increasing soil fertility, ensures animal welfare, protects farmers against dangerous pesticide exposure and contributes to rural development by generating additional farm employment and fair incomes.

Can organic produce feed everybody?
Food security, which is the main concern here, relates to the question of providing equal access to food for as many people as possible rather than nourishing. Current food production far exceeds what is needed by the population globally, yet the problem of its fair distribution perseveres. Hunger is a matter of social, economic and political factors rather than limitations on productive capacity.
Organic agriculture can help increase food security by:
•    decreasing dependence on external inputs and food distribution systems over which they have little control;
•    reducing the likelihood of a production drop or yield failure through crop diversification;
•    outperforming conventional agricultural systems under conditions of environmental stress.

Global yields in organic agriculture are at most 20% lower than in conventional agriculture in specific cases. In fact, many multiple cropping systems, such as those developed by smallholders and subsistence farmers, show higher yields in terms of total harvest per unit area. These yield advantages have been attributed to more efficient use of nutrients, water and light and a combination of other factors such as the introduction of new regenerative elements into the farm (e.g. legumes) and fewer losses resulting from pests and diseases.
Furthermore, organic agriculture has a unique ability to reverse processes of soil degradation and desertification and help safeguard the world’s production potential.

Why organic agriculture does not spread fast?
Organic agriculture requires a unique combination of knowledge, experience and intuition. Farmers need a holistic understanding especially of the soil ecosystem in order to be successful, and building this knowledge base is more time-consuming than purchasing synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Given appropriate allocation of resources for organic research and extension, organic agriculture would become more attractive to producers globally, including Armenia.

These principles express the vision on which the concept of organic agriculture is embedded. They are inter-connected ethical principles to inspire the organic movement, to guide development of clear positions, programs and standards in this regards. 

The Principle of care
Organic agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment. Organic agriculture is a living and dynamic system that shall serve to the benefit and well-being of human societies and natural environments. Consequently, new technologies need to be assessed and existing methods reviewed. Given the incomplete understanding of ecosystems and agriculture, care must be taken. This principle states that precaution and responsibility are the key concerns in management, development and technology choices in organic agriculture. 
To ensure that organic agriculture is healthy, safe and ecologically sound it has to be built on science, practical experience, accumulated wisdom and traditional and indigenous knowledge offer valid solutions, tested by time.
Organic agriculture should prevent significant risks by adopting appropriate technologies and rejecting unpredictable ones, such as genetic engineering. Decisions should reflect the values and needs of all who might be affected, through transparent and participatory processes.

The Principle of health
Organic agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one and indivisible. This principle points out that the health of individuals and communities cannot be separated from the health of ecosystems – healthy soils produce healthy crops that foster the health of animals and people. Health is the wholeness and integrity of living systems. It is not simply the absence of illness, but the maintenance of physical, mental, social and ecological well-being. Immunity, resilience and regeneration are key characteristics of health. The role of organic agriculture, whether in farming, processing, distribution, or consumption, is to sustain and enhance the health of ecosystems and organisms from the smallest in the soil to human beings.

The Principle of ecology
Organic agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them. This implies that organic production is to be based on ecological processes, and recycling. Nourishment and well-being are achieved through the ecology of the specific production environment. Organic farming, pastoral and wild harvest systems should fit the cycles and ecological balances in nature. These cycles are universal but their operation is site-specific. Organic management must be adapted to local conditions, ecology, culture and scale. Inputs should be reduced by reuse, recycling and efficient management of materials and energy in order to maintain and improve environmental quality and conserve resources. The utmost goal is to attain ecological balance through the design of farming systems, establishment of habitats and maintenance of genetic and agricultural diversity. Those who produce, process, trade, or consume organic products should protect and benefit the common environment including landscapes, climate, habitats, biodiversity, air and water.

The Principle of fairness
Organic agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities. Fairness is characterized by equity, respect, justice and stewardship of the shared world, both among people and in their relations to other living beings.
This principle emphasizes that those involved in organic agriculture should conduct human relationships in a manner that ensures fairness at all levels and to all parties – farmers, workers, processors, distributors, traders, and consumers. Organic agriculture should provide everyone involved with a good quality of life, and contribute to food sovereignty and reduction of poverty. It aims to produce a sufficient supply of good quality food and other products. This principle insists that animals should be provided with the conditions and opportunities of life that in accord with their physiology, natural behavior and well-being.
Natural and environmental resources that are used for production and consumption should be managed in a way that is socially and ecologically just and should be held in trust for future generations. Fairness requires systems of production, distribution and trade that are open and equitable and account for real environmental and social costs.

Organic farming practices
Organic farmers grow and process foods by following general guiding principles established to ensure sustainable practices and animal welfare. Some common organic strategies and tactics pertain to soil health, use of beneficial insects, crop rotation, buffer, and cover crops. 
Soil: Organic farmers maintain the health of their soil by using manure or compost and other organic material instead of synthetic fertilizers. Biological fertilizers like compost, release nutrients slowly, build up organic soil matter, increase the capacity of soil to retain moisture and reduce leaching of nitrates into groundwater. Up to 40 percent of synthetic fertilizers used on conventional farms end up in ground and surface waters, eventually polluting rivers, lakes, and oceans.
Beneficial insects: Some organic farmers introduce beneficial insects such as ladybugs, soldier beetles, green lacewings, big-eyed bugs and beneficial nematodes that eat harmful insects.
Crop rotation: Organic farmers often do not grow the same crop on the same field year after year. Crop rotation naturally replenishes the soil because as different plants contribute varying nutrients to the soil.  Disrupting the habitats of insect pests and weeds helps control them.
Buffers: Organic farmers designate the edges of their land as buffer zones.  This means the land is managed in accord with organic practices, but the crops grown on them aren’t sold as organic because some plants in the buffer may have been exposed to genetically engineered crops or chemicals used in conventional agriculture but barred for organic farms.
Cover Crops: Cover crops such as clover, rye, and wheat are planted between growing seasons to help replenish the soil with nutrients and prevent soil erosion. They also help maintain populations of beneficial insects. Cover crops can control weeds by smothering and shading them and outcompeting them for nutrients.

Organic livestock requirements
Organic farmers are required to accommodate the natural behavior of their livestock and meet health and wellness requirements.  These requirements include:

Feed and grazing: organic livestock must be fed 100 percent certified organic feed, with an exception for trace minerals and vitamins necessary to meet the animal’s nutritional requirements. The land and pasture on which organic livestock are raised must be certified organic and meet all organic crop production standards. Organic ruminant livestock such as cattle, sheep and goats, must have free access to certified organic pasture for the entire grazing season.

Disease prevention and treatment: organic farmers aren’t allowed to use drugs routinely to prevent diseases and parasites. Instead they are required to rely on animal selection and management practices. A few synthetic substances such as pain medication and de-wormers can be used to treat organic livestock if preventive strategies have failed. In extreme cases, when both preventative measures and treatment with approved substances has failed, the animal must be given the appropriate treatment with prohibited substances such as antibiotics. However, after such treatment, the animal and/or its products cannot be sold as organic.

What’s the difference between "natural" and "organic" foods?
Many foods labeled as “natural” can be grown with toxic pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, and genetically engineered ingredients. Organic agriculture is based upon a systematic approach and standards that can be verified and are recognized internationally. Natural foods, on the other hand, have no legal definition or recognition, and are not based on a systematic approach. While natural products may generally be minimally processed, there are no requirements to provide proof, leaving open the possibility for fraud and misuse of the term.

Toxic chemical pesticides
Many of the foods marketed as “natural” have been grown with help from toxic pesticides. Though designed to combat pests on plants, pesticide residues remain on or in the food we eat.

Many “natural” meats have been raised with help from antibiotics. In some cases, farmers use antibiotics to treat sick animals. In most cases, antibiotics are used by feedlot operators trying to prevent infections caused by cramped and unsanitary living conditions. This practice has led to the development of superbugs, antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are hard to treat.

Artificial hormones
Some farmers use artificial hormones to make their animals grow bigger, faster, and to increase productivity in conventional agricultural production.

Genetically engineered ingredients
Many foods labeled as “natural” include ingredients from crops that have been genetically engineered. Genetic engineering is a process that alters a plant’s DNA to make a new organism not found in nature.

Legislation on organic fraud
In 2008 Armenia passed a Law on Organic Agriculture, which sets clear definitions for organic agricultural produce as opposed to other types of ‘natural’ products.

Consumers are looking for reasons to eat healthier and they want more information about where their food comes from and how it was produced. There are hundreds of reasons to choose certified organic over conventional products, and here are some of the primary reasons to go organic.

Persistent Pesticides
The use of insecticides, fungicides, fertilizers and weed-killers are strictly monitored in organic food production. Organic farming produces healthy food without the use of toxic pesticides. While some organic farmers do use pesticides they are primarily derived from natural substances. These natural pesticides must be approved for organic production. The natural pesticides that are approved are only allowed to be used when other pest control methods aren’t successful.

Using genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, is prohibited in organic agriculture. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, and an organic cow can’t eat GMO feed stuff.

No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives are allowed in organic food. Cleaner food means cleaner diets which leads to a cleaner bill of health. No artificial preservatives, colors or flavors are allowed in organic food. By contrast, thousands of chemicals can be added to conventional packaged foods, including preservatives, flavors and colors linked to health problems.

Soil Health
Organic farming creates healthy soil. Healthy soil creates healthy food and a healthy environment. Healthy soil is the basis for organic agriculture. Organic farmers use natural organic fertilizers and soil amendments like organic matter (things you can compost), green manures (cover crops grown specifically for soil improvement, e.g. legumes), and animal manures (with safety restrictions) to build healthy soil.  When food is grown in healthy soil, crops are better able to resist disease, survive drought, and tolerate insects.

Organic food contains more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and micronutrients than conventionally raised food. There is a growing body of evidence documenting how farming methods can influence the nutritional content of foods.

Sewage Sludge
Organic farming never uses sewage sludge. Sewage sludge is a product of wastewater treatment and contains numerous known and unknown hazardous materials – including everything that is flushed into the sewer system. Once treated, sewage sludge can be applied to agricultural cropland as fertilizer.
Organic products are managed according to defined processes for planting, growing, raising and handling. A very important part of the process-based regulatory framework is the prohibition of certain methods in organic production and handling. Methods like irradiation, sewage sludge, and genetic engineering are all expressly prohibited from being used when growing or processing organic foods.

Organic food is never irradiated. Irradiated food is exposed to an intense ionizing radiation. This is done in a processing room for a specified duration. With food irradiation, radiant energy (electrons, gamma rays or x-rays) breaks chemical bonds with intention to reduce microorganisms.

Climate Change
The primary benefit of organic crop and livestock production, compared to conventional agriculture, is that it is focused on soil-based production with underlying principles of maintaining or improving soil quality. Healthy soil counteracts climate change by pulling carbon out of the atmosphere.

Organic farms and crops are pollinator-friendly and protect bees, pollinators and wildlife from toxic chemicals. Large-scale, chemically intensive agricultural production has been implicated as a major source of threats to pollinators.
Organic farming standards not only prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides, many of which are highly toxic to bees and can be persistent in the environment, but also require that organic producers manage their farms in a manner that fosters biodiversity and improves natural resources.

Farm workers
Organic farming doesn’t expose neighboring communities and farm workers to dangerous persistent pesticides. Farm workers are at great risk for exposure to agricultural pesticides and the adverse health impacts that can occur as a result. Neighbors are also at risk for exposure through pesticide drift if they live near a big farm or a conventionally managed park or playing field. Pesticide drift is a threat to human health as well as to wildlife and ecosystems.

Organic farming practices result in numerous environmental benefits. Organic farming rebuilds soil health and stops harmful chemicals from getting into our water supplies. Water and soil are two extremely important resources necessary for growing food. Organic farmers don’t rely on non-renewable oil-based fertilizers and pesticides we may not always have access to. Organic farming releases fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Many byproducts of conventional farming threaten watersheds and pollute drinking water. Choosing organic protects the streams and lakes downstream from toxic runoff that conventional farming produces.  Runoff from farms carries soil and farm inputs like fertilizer and pesticides into nearby creeks and streams. 
Organic farmers, like any others, need to provide nitrogen and phosphorus for crops grow. But unlike conventional farmers, organic farmers rarely rely primarily on chemical fertilizers, which would be costly and inconsistent with the organic approach to soil fertility. Organic farmers use natural organic fertilizers and soil amendments like organic matter, green manures, and animal manures to build healthy soil.  The use of organic soil amendments rather than synthetic fertilizers provides crops with complex nutrient sources that are slow to release and limit their loss into the soil and into our waters. 

Eating organic can reduce the risk of cancer in humans. Studies have found that those who eat organic foods have lower risk of developing cancer.

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In Armenia organic produce is available in major supermarkets and stores.
Carrefour Armenia
Halep Armenia
Nor Zovq (Hanrapetutyan str)