A totally non-organic experience

Beetroot went on a diet.

You might have noticed that economically, we’ve all been on a bit of a sticky wicket recently. Between politicians, bankers and spurious  charity telethons many people barely have tuppence to rub together.

This appears to be behind the news last week that sales of organic food have nose-dived like an aphid towards an un-sprayed lettuce.

According to the Soil Association, sales fell by 13 per cent last year, the first time sales have fallen since 1993, when Mr Blobby and Noel Edmonds were considered the height of Saturday night television. It’s that long ago.

Naturally the slump is being blamed on the recession, but is it really just tighter budgets? It probably is the largest factor, but I’d like to think at least that the revival in local food is also playing its part.

I don’t know about anyone else but buying local food from farmers markets and local shops, you immediately assume that it is organic. You certainly don’t think that it has been sprayed with enough chemicals to kill Bruce Forsyth (who is almost immortal).

There is certainly a huge divide in people’s minds between supermarket-bought produce and greengrocer-brought. Kindly old Mrs O’Hara isn’t going to have Frankenstein carrots is she? Or is she?

Anyway, this line in my one-time occasional employer the Daily Telegraph made me chuckle for its lack of logic:

The slump is being blamed on the recession, with cost-conscious shoppers preferring supermarkets’ budget ranges to organic food, which is generally more expensive than intensively farmed products.

This ignores the fact that people who generally fork out for organics are not those who will, when feeling the pinch, immediately head for the cheap and cheerful aisle. Organic people generally have more pride/snobbery than that in my experience and would rather be seen dead than with a can of Tesco Value chopped tomatoes in their trolley.

So the explanation that the recession is to blame seems a little thin to me. The notion that organic has slightly fallen foul of its own publicy might have played its own part, though I await an organic farmer to put me right on that front.

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