In addition to the things you might automatically associate with organic agriculture — like no pesticide use — it also has a focus on providing a natural environment for animals and fostering natural behaviours.
Certified organic meat production also includes a free-range aspect. Although there has been much debate in the media in recent times regarding problems within the organic certification system, CHOICE still considers certified organics as currently being the best guarantee that organic produce has been produced appropriately.
The organic industry is currently in effect regulated by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), because exported organic foods must meet AQIS’s National Standard for Organic and Bio-dynamic Produce, and it has accredited a number of organisations as qualified to certify organic foods. The government does this to ensure Australia’s organic export markets, but Australian consumers benefit indirectly.
Recent debates about how much flexibility is permitted in the standards, and whether food that can’t be exported should be allowed for domestic consumption in certain circumstances, serve to highlight the urgent need for developing an agreed domestic standard and enforcement framework for organic produce sold to Australian consumers. And CHOICE will be working on making this happen.
In the meantime, certified organic produce is the best guarantee currently available.