Heard of IPM farming? If you’re committed to eating organic but feeling the cost of living pinch, it could be a welcome middle ground – especially as it costs 30% less than organic food
It’s no secret, as a society, we’re becoming more health conscious. Eating organic produce in particular is growing popularity, particularly for women and mums who’re concerned about the use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and other chemicals used in conventional agriculture.
As a result, more and more are turning to organic produce as a safer and healthier option for themselves, their families and the environment.
But as the cost-of-living crisis cranks up, many of us are being priced out of the organic produce market – making shopping sustainably seem more like an unattainable luxury than an every day possibility.
Here, organic food expert and founder of delivery service CERES Fair Food Chris Ennis, shares his advice on how low-toxers can navigate the rising cost of food via integrated pest management (IPM), a farming method that works with nature to minimise pests and the risks caused by chemical sprays.
Will cost of living rises impact the organic movement?
Women have led the charge of the organic food movement. According to the latest Australian Organic Market Report, 70 per cent of women surveyed said they’d purchased organic food in the past 12 months, compared to 57 per cent of men.
The same report shows 46 per cent of Australian shoppers started buying organic for personal health reasons, exacerbated in light of COVID-19.
The rising cost of living poses a significant threat to this, as individuals and families may find it increasingly difficult to afford healthy and sustainable food options.
Does that mean we have to give up on organic?
As an organic food retailer, the proof is in our numbers and we’ve seen first-hand a decline in customers largely due to ongoing cost pressures. Our friends running farmers markets, online grower hubs and retail organic stores have echoed similar sentiments.
Despite these challenges, many consumers are still committed to buying organic produce, viewing it as a worthwhile investment in their health and the environment. However, for others, the rising cost of living means making difficult choices about their food purchasing, prioritising affordability over sustainability and health.
But what if I told you there was a middle ground that costs around 30 per cent less than organic produce?
IPM farming. You’ve probably never heard of IPM and you’re not alone. But as cost of living pressures bite, it’s an affordable alternative for the ethical consumer that not enough people are talking about. Strangely though, it’s a conversation the big supermarkets are doing their best not to have.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is farming that does everything possible to encourage and protect beneficial insects, like ladybirds and lacewings, which control pests. IPM farms aren’t organic, they do however employ organic techniques such as crop rotation and green manuring and use targeted biological sprays that don’t harm the beneficial ladybirds, lacewings and bees.
The main goal of IPM is to work with nature to minimise the damage caused by pests and also minimise the risks to human health and the environment that are caused by chemical sprays.
So why aren’t the big supermarkets promoting IPM? It’s simple. If they talk about IPM growers spraying less and less it means having to talk about the conventional growers who have to spray more and more as they battle to stay ahead of pesticide resistant insects.
How can consumers find IPM products?
IPM farmers have created a special label you can look out for in supermarkets. It’s a butterfly over a circle with the letters IPM inside it. You won’t see it promoted in stores, but those ‘in the know’ can keep an eye out for it.
Alternatively, organic food retailers, like CERES Fair Food, are partnering with IPM farmers to offer a range of affordable IPM fruit and veg to provide a sustainable option for the increasing number of environmentally and health conscious consumers who are feeling the pinch.
Whether you’re someone who shops wholly organic or someone who is trying to reduce buying items wrapped in single use packaging, there are always alternatives out there, you just have to know where to look!
Source @womenshealth.com.au: Read more at : womenalive.org