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Then, in the early 1900s, industrial agriculture swept the world with promises of larger crops that were grown faster and more safely. Sounds great, right? Alas, it landed with costs across the board, from pollution of the earth to health risks for consumers to unsafe working conditions for farmers.

Happily, more and more Italian farmers are returning to traditions as ancient as the Etruscans, from crop rotating to natural fertilizers (hello, compost) — with the modern help of environmentally-friendly equipment.

Check out the ins and outs of organic farming in Italy, then stop by our markets to get a taste of nature!

 

WHAT IS ORGANIC FARMING?

The European Union defines organic farming under these three basic rules:

1. Skip the synthetic.

No man-made chemicals may be used. That means no synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, or any other murderous -cides.

2. Go native.

It’s simple: nature knows. Crops that are native to an area thrive without chemicals and are naturally resistant to diseases. (Face it: if you try to grow mangoes in a wintry climate, you’re setting yourself up for failure.)

3. Get back to the good ol’ days.

There is a reason why farmers used those traditional techniques for thousands of years! Good farming practices include:

Crop rotation: Don’t grow the same type of crops for multiple seasons in a row. As you rotate, the different types of seeds enrich the soil and prevent pests and weeds from adapting and spreading.

Plant “barriers”: Creating natural landscapes, trees and hedges make homes for pest predators and serve as a physical barrier against pollution.

Natural fertilizers: Again, nature knows what it’s doing! From compost to dung (yes, dung), natural fertilizer gives a boost to crops.

…and the EU’s rules and regulations go on and on! Intrigued how and what they regulate? Take a look for yourself, and find your inner farmer.

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WHY DOES ORGANIC FARMING EVEN MATTER?

Basically? Organic farming is good for the soil, good for the plants, good for the planet, good for the animals, good for your fellow humans, and good for you.

More specifically, as explained by IFOAM Organics International, organic farming benefits:

1. Health.

This probably won't come as a surprise, but studies show that synthetic chemicals and GMOs come with toxic health risks to humans, pollution to the planet, and danger to animals.

2. Fairness.

Organic farms tend to be smaller and built on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the environment, the workers, and the consumers.

3. Ecology.

Again, it gets back to nature. Organic farming is based on natural ecological systems and cycles, working within them, emulating them, and helping sustain them.

4. Care.

Focused on responsible and precautionary goals, organic farming protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment. It is a living and dynamic system that responds to internal and external demands and conditions.

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HOW DO I KNOW IF A PRODUCT IS REALLY ORGANIC?

Look at the label! To be certified organic, a product must have more than 95% organic ingredients. But how do you know if it’s real?

We can help with that!

At Eataly, we carry organic food and drink from small-scale farms, who we find through our partnerships with FederBio and Italian Trade Commission. These consortia and federations work with the best producers of the regional Italian products, from olive oil to cheese to pasta.

Find these products at your local Eataly, bring them home, and enjoy the taste of real food!

Eat better organic, live better.

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