Farming is booming in France with 7.5% of the country's agricultural land being farmed organically. AFP
A record number of French farms switched to organic production last year, helped by the grains sector catching on to the trend, the country's organic food agency said on Tuesday.
France, the European Union's largest agricultural producer, added 5,000 organic farms last year, surpassing a prior high of 4,200 seen in both 2016 and 2017, the Agence Bio said in an annual market review.
That increased the number of organic farms by 13% to 41,600, or 9.5% of all French farms. The organic farmland area expanded by 17% to 2 million hectares, or 7.5% of all farmland.
In the crop sector, the organic area jumped 31% to 514,000 hectares, or 4.3% of the national crop area.
"We've taken a step forward in the crop sector," Philippe Henry, a farmer and president of Agence Bio, told reporters. "Before it wasn't the done thing to convert to organic, now it's become something normal."
Organic tomatoes are seen in Tremargat, western France. Fred Tanneau/AFP
Weak prices for conventional grain, subsidies for organic farming and supply chain investments encouraged more crop farmers to switch, Agence Bio said, adding that conversions were mainly outside grain belts with the highest yields.
The share of organic farmland in France, however, is still only half of a 15% target the government has set for 2022.
The sharp rise in organic production was helping keep pace with strong consumer demand and cap imports, Agence Bio said.
Organic food sales rose 15.7% last year to 9.7 billion euros ($10.9 billion), or 5% of overall food spending by French households, it said.
That kept France as the EU's second-largest organic food market, behind Germany which saw sales of 10.9 billion, it said.
Supermarkets, which accounted for 49% of sales last year, drove demand by giving consumers greater access to organic food, it added.
The share of imports was stable at 31% in volume terms.
Agence Bio, a government-backed body that promotes organic farming, played down the risk that fast growth would erode price premiums for farmers and also lead to less sustainable practices, saying the sector would adjust.
Farming organisations are currently debating whether to allow heating of greenhouses for organic production in France, leading some groups to criticise industrial methods.
The fungus known locally as "Terfas" is the only thing, besides some wild grass, that grows under the desert sands nurtured by the combined effect of rain and cold temperatures at night.
The various types of flours available in the market are bound to confuse anyone who wanders down that particular supermarket aisle. Read on to find out the healthiest to pick.
Even though water is best for quenching thirst at Iftar but it can get quite boring. Instead, try these tasty and healthy alternatives to hydrate yourself.
Though New York's Fashion Week wrapped more than a month ago, there was plenty of fierce fashion at the second annual "Gigi's Playhouse Fashion Show" on Wednesday, an event that allows young people with Down syndrome to share their talent.
The muscles from those who exercised before breakfast also showed greater increases in key proteins, specifically those involved in transporting glucose from the bloodstream to the muscles.
A key obstacle is unequal access: while some people throw away food they buy too much of, others cannot afford or find the nutrition they need, said the report entitled "food Systems at Risk."