The Grassroots View

21. The Organic Awards and the state of organic food in Europe

Sept. 30, 2022

In this episode, we explore organic farming, organic production, and organic eating, through the lens of the first EU Organic Awards. These were awarded in September 2022 to eight European organisations excelling all along the organic food chain: from Best Organic Farm and Region, to best Organic SME and Restaurant. What are the prospects for reaching the EU target of 25% of agricultural land under organic cultivation by 2030? Does organic food contribute to food security and food affordability in times of energy and price crisis? If so, how? These are some of the questions we tackle with our guests. Peter Schmidt, EESC member and President of the Agricultural, Rural Development and Environment section (NAT), explains how the committee, representing between 80 and 90 million Europeans, can bring huge awareness around the idea of the value of food. He also tells us why it is crucial for the common future to switch over to food that's locally produced, transported and served up. Alexander Wugk is Head Chef at Lilla Bjers in Sweden, winners of the Best organic restaurant award. He says that he puts organic before what he wants to do as a chef, and tells us how this award helps the organisation to know that what they believe in is right. He also talks about the challenge for conventional farmers to transition to organic production, even more now in times of crisis, and how these need to be addressed at a bigger level. Michel Pâque, Manager at Ferme à l'Arbre de Liège in Belgium, and winner of the Best organic food retailer award, gives us an optimistic view on the state of organic agriculture. He thinks that organic farming has become credible and concrete, with these EU awards as an example. He also explains how their business model works, and what their main current challenges are. Jörg Daunke is the co-founder of J. Kinski in Germany, winners of the Best organic SME award. He hopes that this award can generate more attention for their cause. If larger bodies like the EU find organic food important, then it means that it really is. He tells us about their business model and how they try to waste as little as they can when creating their products. Eddy Wax, Reporter for POLITICO Europe, and specialist in agricultural affairs. Eddy says that there's still positivity and optimism around the organic sector, even with the war in Ukraine going on and the global crisis. The sector's rapid expansion in the last 20 years will probably slow down a little bit though. He also shines a light on the central debate in agricultural policy that's existed for decades: How do you balance the needs of being more sustainable with being more productive? He finally gives us the main challenges that organic farming is going to be facing in the coming years.

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