Is it worth organic food

New test results: Why BIO isn't always better

94 percent of German households regularly buy organic products. Often these are 30 to 40 percent more expensive than conventional foods. You think a price that pays off. After all, you acquire quality, health and a clear conscience at the same time, but that's not entirely true, explains Stiftung Warentest after a long-term study. In terms of overall quality, according to the final verdict, organic is on average no better than conventional food and even contains as many germs on average. The often praised good taste of organic products could not be proven either.

Less pesticides, more ecological responsibility

Two common arguments in favor of organic have thus been undermined. But there are also positive things to report: there are plus points for the ecological responsibility of the farmers and the low pesticide content of organic products. Because when it comes to animal husbandry and production, many organic farmers are demonstrably going a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way than conventional manufacturers. Genetic engineering and the use of chemical-synthetic pesticides and nitrogen fertilizers are prohibited, the animals should be kept in a more species-appropriate manner. More exercise, better food and growth hormones are taboo. Consumers can be sure that organic fruits and vegetables are less contaminated with pesticides than conventional goods. In the tests, 75 percent of the organic goods were completely pesticide-free.

Not every product is 100% organic

But this does not apply to all organic foods. Many are only marked with the familiar hexagonal green logo. It is based on the EU organic regulation and will be replaced by the new EU seal from July 1st. And this seal only proves that minimum criteria were met during production and that 95 percent of the ingredients come from organic farming. It's not 100 percent organic. The farm does not even have to be completely converted to organic farming, conventional goods are grown alongside organic goods, and animals are sometimes kept on much smaller areas than in fully organic dressing yards. Pay attention to additional seals If you want to buy organic with a clear conscience, you should therefore pay attention to an additional seal from associations such as Demeter, Bioland or Naturland. These cultivation associations, to which around 70 percent of all organic farmers in Germany belong, have much stricter criteria and usually go far beyond the guidelines of the EU organic regulation. Association farmers have converted their entire farm to organic farming and can therefore really guarantee "100 percent organic". By way of comparison: the EC organic regulation allows a maximum of 230 laying hens, 580 chickens and 14 fattening pigs per hectare and year for its organic label. Bioland is voluntarily stricter, limited to 140 hens, 280 chickens and ten fattening pigs - so each animal has more space. There are also differences in the additives. According to the EC organic regulation, around 45 substances are allowed, 22 for Bioland and only 20 for Demeter.

Be careful with organic products from the discounter

The days when organic could only be bought in health food stores or directly from farmers are long gone. There is hardly a supermarket or discounter that does not have its own organic line on the shelves. Organic supermarkets such as Alnatura or Basic receive consistently good ratings, their products meet strict guidelines or carry the seal of a cultivation association. The situation is different at the discounter: organic foods often only meet the minimum requirements for organic products. The fight for prices depresses quality: organic philosophy? Nothing. Often only part of the company produces organic products, it is about quantity, not about quality. This is the only way to keep the low prices, the discounters are up to 30 percent cheaper than other organic suppliers. The consumer initiative e.V. also judges: Brands such as BioBio (Netto), Naturgut (Penny) or Biotrend (Lidl) are only recommendable to a limited extent.

Conclusion:

If you want organic, you buy products that, in addition to the EU seal, also bear a mark from one of the major cultivation associations. In return, there is no longer any taste or a health miracle, but at least the certainty that the goods have been produced sustainably and ecologically correct.

For further reading:

You can find a detailed guide through the organic jungle in our guide to organic food.