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Do you want to take a look into the life of organic products? They grow up on the most beautiful farms – where chickens and cows scratch and graze carefree, where the land is cultivated with respect for the environment. They are pure and full of nature, and become even tastier when prepared with a little love. ballonvaarten.be

The most beautiful products tell the cleanest story
Organic products have a fantastic life story! After all, they are given time to be children and grow up healthy. They enjoy a wonderful view and are gently treated and surrounded by the best care. They are allowed to take their time without having to rush to the final meeting. And in the end, they provide us with food with quality and a delicious taste.

Organic is becoming increasingly popular with consumers. As a result, organic companies are steadily being added, which are barely able to keep up with demand. But how long has the organic approach existed? And when was it really made official?

Is organic farming really something new? Did it not exist before? Yes, in a sense, agriculture was always organic. In the 18th and 19th centuries, there were numerous small farms where farmers traditionally worked: they did crop rotation, usually using organic manure (from their own herd) and natural products for crop protection.seobureau.be

But in the 19th century the population started to grow. In agriculture, higher yields were needed to feed everyone. Manure was an important tool in this respect. Organic manure was sometimes supplemented with waste from the cities or from beer breweries. From 1850 onwards, farmers also used guano, dried up bird manure from Peru, an excellent fertiliser. In this way farmers became familiar with purchased manure. At the beginning of the 20th century, different types of fertiliser came on the market, which spread quickly. It was to be the start of more large-scale agriculture.

The pioneers
At the beginning of the 20th century, critical voices quickly emerged from people who opposed the use of artificial fertilisers and chemical crop protection and promoted a more natural agricultural model. One of the very first biopioners was the Briton Albert Howard, who had seen for himself in India how sustainable agriculture was firmly rooted in local farming practice. He understood early on the importance of fertile soil: as early as 1921 he published the article ‘The Influence of Soil Factors on Disease Resistance’. His ‘An Agricultural Testament’ from 1940 became a standard work in England.

The three books by A. Howard, J.I. Rodale and R. Steiner that made a difference
Howard’s ideas also influenced American Jerome Irving Rodale. He wanted to build a healthy and active lifestyle with ‘organically grown foods’ as he first called it – ‘organically grown food’. In 1940, Rodale started an experimental farm for organic gardening, and in 1942 he launched the magazine ‘Organic Farming and Gardening’. His work culminated in the well-known Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, USA, which is still active today.

A third important biopioneer was undoubtedly the Austrian philosopher and anthroposopher Rudolf Steiner. He saw that soil and animals were being depleted by the ever-increasing rush of the growth process. Around 1924, the principles of biodynamic agriculture grew out of Steiner’s lectures. A conscious approach to the relationship between soil, plants, animals, sun, moon and other celestial bodies is central to this. The term ‘biodynamic’ only came into use years later.
In other European countries, such as Germany and France, organic farming was also carried out and research carried out.

The impact of WWII
In Europe, the Second World War had a major impact on agriculture. After the war, food was in short supply in many European countries, and the baby boom caused the population to grow rapidly. Farmers were expected to produce a lot of food. As a result, productivity was boosted, and fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides soon came onto the market, reducing heavy labour and promising high crop yields. Small-scale and labour-intensive agriculture gradually evolved into a highly mechanised, ‘intensive’ agriculture.

Limits to growth
In the 1960s, concerns about environmental pollution and food safety grew, and people began to look more critically at the way their food was grown. Awareness grew that the environment was under serious pressure from man’s agricultural activities. Particularly in the 1970s, ecological and organic agriculture and horticulture experienced a strong revival of interest.

A number of publications played an important role in this. As early as 1962, the American biologist Rachel Carson caused a stir with her book ‘Silent Spring’ (‘Dead Spring’) in which, among other things, she highlighted the harmful effects of the insecticide DDT on the environment. In the meantime, many of these products have been banned. Another influential publication was the report ‘Limits to growth’ by the Club of Rome in 1972. The report established a direct link between rapid economic growth and its (detrimental) effects on the environment, and put the environment on the political agenda worldwide.

Organic leek with flower border at Agrico – (c) VLAM, P. De Laet
1987: Bio started in Belgium
An important step towards organic farming was taken in 1972 when the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) was founded. IFOAM unites and supports organic organisations all over the world. The organisation now has some 600 members, from Albania to Vietnam.

In the 1980s, various farmers’ and consumers’ groups around the world began putting pressure on governments to enshrine organic production standards in legislation to guarantee the quality of organic produce.

Steps were also taken in our country. In 1981, a number of organisations, including Velt (Association for Ecological Life and Gardening), decided to start working together. This resulted in a first organic specifications (detailed description of the rules), as well as an organic label and control among the farmers. This cooperation led to the creation in 1987 of the private brand Biogarantie, intended to market organic products, and a non-profit organisation of the same name.

1991: Organic start up in Europe
The great breakthrough for organic farming came in the 1990s. The first ‘new’ ecological/organic farmers of that time often chose to work on a smaller scale and in a more humane and environmentally friendly way again, with a lot of attention for animal welfare and recycling.

The flags of the European Union – (c) EU
A real milestone came in 1991, when the Council of the European Union adopted the first official ‘Regulation on organic production’. Since then, this European organic legislation has been updated and fine-tuned a few more times. The European organic rules are almost the bible of organic: all certified organic farmers and producers in Europe have to comply strictly with these rules, and they are regularly and accurately checked.

2012: The green leaf
Another important moment was 1 July 2012: that day the current European organic label, the well-known ‘green leaf’, was introduced, which is mandatory on all organically certified food. The label tells consumers that the product was grown or processed according to the rules of European organic legislation.

Read more about how you can be sure that something is organic.
The EU organic label shows you the way
In the meantime, organic farming has developed into a fully-fledged, professional farming method. Today’s consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability and environmentally conscious agriculture. So it is not surprising that the demand for organic products continues to grow!

Organic farmer Nico Vandevennet knows everything about the soil – (c) VLAM, P. De Laet
2030: ambitious target
On 20 May 2020, the European Commission announced its new Farm to Fork Strategy. The goal? To give food production in Europe a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly course. The strategy also includes very ambitious targets for organic farming: at least 25% of the EU’s farmland should be devoted to organic farming by 2030.