The Big Organic
Now worth a whopping £2.09billion, the organic market in the UK is bigger than ever and growing exponentially. And, in case you needed any further proof of the consumer’s seismic shift, recent research from England Marketing revealed that 39% of shoppers buy organic food on a weekly basis. Then there’s the Soil Association’s Best Of Organic Market Awards. Or, as they are known to the army of people who are entering, judging or just hoping to attend: the BOOM Awards.
The BOOMs are the UK’s only dedicated organic awards, celebrating all of the individuals, businesses and brands who are working so hard to produce food just the way it should be.
Now in its second year, anticipation around the awards – which takes place in the Market Hall of London’s iconic Borough Market on Wednesday 5 July – is building fast: not least because of the announcement of Rosie Birkett as its BOOMbassador. She’s one of the most popular foodie talents around, as well as a cook, food stylist, writer and Instagram extraordinaire. Rosie is also a vocal champion of the benefits of organic products and says: ‘I always try to prepare and cook my dishes with the best possible ingredients,’ she says. ‘There are now so many amazing organic foods on offer which are readily available to everyone, and I can’t wait to try some at this year’s BOOMs.’
Rosie is not wrong. In fact there have been so many new food and drink products coming on to the organic market in recent times that the BOOMs are, this year, introducing a number of categories, from Best New Organic Product, to Best Organic Farmer, to Organic Rising Star: the latter category, which celebrates the champions and change-makers across the industry, is being supported by Balance.
Indeed, now is the time to really get involved because, while more people than ever may be acknowledging the benefits of buying organic – avoiding the use of pesticides, artificial colours and preservatives, while maintaining the highest standards of animal welfare – the job will not truly be done until everyone does.
AWARD YOUR CHOICES
‘The recent findings are encouraging,’ says Soil Association Certification business development director Clare McDermott, ‘but with a fifth of people still not believing there are real benefits of organic food, there’s a lack of understanding and confusion for shoppers about the breadth of organic benefits and why it is nutritionally different. That’s why the BOOMs are such an exciting way to let shoppers see the range of organic products readily available.’
Most of the categories will be judged by a panel of industry experts that includes high profile chefs, bloggers and writers, plus Balance’s very own editor, Sophie. But the good news for you is that there is one category that you can directly influence: the Nation’s Favourite Award.
THE ORGANIC PIONEERS
Founded in 1946, the Soil Association provides reassurance that certain produce meets the organic principles of ecology, fairness, care and health. These standards have changed the way we eat, improved farming techniques and continue to protect the environment – in fact 70% of organic food in the UK is certified by the Soil Association. The Soil Association’s symbol of trust proves the product has met strict guidelines.
MEET THE EXPERT
Rosie Birkett is Boombassador of the awards. But what inspired her to go organic and how important is it?
Q. How and why did you get involved with the BOOM Awards?
A. Organic farming and produce is something I really care about. The more I learn about food production and its impact on the environment, the more I am convinced that organic agriculture is a better way for the health of the planet compared with industrial, chemical agriculture. So I was thrilled to get involved when the Soil Association approached me to help spread the word.
Q. When did you first learn of the importance of buying organic food?
A. Growing food in the most natural way possible is something I was engaged with from a very young age because we grew a lot of our own veg in the garden at home in Kent. Because of this, I think I’ve always felt compelled to ask questions about provenance but, also, working in the food industry for the past few years has prompted me to learn more about organic and its importance.
I don’t believe that it’s all or nothing – for example even if you’re just making a decision to buy organic dairy or one variety of organic veg, that’s a start.
Q. How important are ingredients certified by the Soil Association?
A. People all have their own priorities when it comes to food shopping, but I do think if everyone knew more about the holistic benefits of organic farming, and why it costs more than regular produce, that would help them make more informed decisions. Understanding the care and work involved in farming and growing ingredients is crucial.
VOTE FOR YOUR ORGANIC PRODUCT AND YOU COULD BE AT THE BOOMS!
If you vote for the Nation’s Favourite product, you could win tickets to the ceremony on 5 July. Full of delicious food and wonderful people, the BOOM Awards is a great night out: and you and a friend could be there this time around… All it takes is a couple of seconds to make some noise about your own favourite organic product. Simply visit Soil Association and stake your claim.