FOOD and energy price rises are leading to tough decisions for many at the checkout this autumn. Against this turbulent background, the quality and environmental impact of food is being discussed less – but organic food advocates believe this isn’t the time to lower food standards.

The Soil Association is synonymous with the organic movement, supporting and encouraging a move to organic for the past 75 years. The charity explains organic isn’t only about the end product but the whole system: “Organic farmers aim to produce high-quality food, using methods that benefit our whole food system: from people to planet, plant health to animal welfare.”

For producers, gaining organic certification isn’t easy, but it’s a choice with a hugely positive impact on soil health and biodiversity on farms. Organic farms don’t use pesticides and maintain a natural balance between plants and wildlife. Artificial fertilisers are banned; instead crop rotation and composting are used to enrich the soil. Organic farms also have the highest animal welfare standards in the UK.

Katherine Riach farms organically at Lochaber Farm in Fife. She says: “It feels right to work with natural systems at the heart of what we do. Since having our kids we’ve thought more carefully about what we eat and where it comes from and this led us to decide to convert our farm to organic. The results so far, from the improvements in our land and the quality of the produce speak for themselves.”

Pete Ritchie is an organic farmer, food policy expert and executive director of Nourish Scotland, a charity that campaigns for a fairer, healthier food system in Scotland. He says the Covid pandemic revealed how long food supply chains are, and made people ask: “How is it that we’re surrounded by fields but none of the stuff that has grown near where we live gets to us?”

He believes organic farming can help make the Scottish food system more resilient: “Since the Second World War we’ve had a chemical approach to farming. I think we’ve underestimated the whole biological nature of farming and the way in which we have to work with nature, with the sense of the soil as a living entity and the planet as a living entity, that we have to understand and respect and work with rather than trying to control.” Many are concerned cheap food masks hidden costs in the supply chain, from land that is left depleted and unusable, to workers that aren’t paid fairly. The fear is the current push to lower food prices may drive both environmental and nutritional standards even lower. Locavore, the Glasgow organic grocery chain state that: “Organic is still wrongly presented as niche, expensive or elitist. We should see the current system of intensive monocultures driven by chemical inputs as something none of us can afford to support.”

Even if going fully organic is out of reach, try adding organic products to your weekly shop. To help you, here is a selection of Scotland’s foremost organic food producers...

The National: Bare Bones Chocolate Bare Bones Chocolate (Image: Bare Bones Chocolate)

Bare Bones Chocolate

Bare Bones Chocolate roasts single-origin cacao beans in micro-batches, using a modified coffee roaster, with the aim of showcasing the incredible diversity of flavours possible from this humble bean. It says: “Chocolate should be pure, delicious and ethical.” Visit the factory shop and hot chocolate bar and indulge in chocolate with a conscience.

7 Osborne Street, Glasgow G1 5QN

The National: LocavoreLocavore (Image: Locavore)


Social enterprise Locavore brings organic fruit and vegetables, refillable grains and pulses, and a whole range of tasty organic produce to the high street. From one tiny shop in Glasgow, Locavore now has four farms, five shops across Glasgow and Edinburgh and a veg box scheme . . . and ambitious plans for future expansion.

Branches in Garnethill, Govanhill, Partick, plus Kirkintilloch, and Dalry in Edinburgh.

The National: FuttleFuttle (Image: Futtle)


Stephen Marshall and Lucy Hine of Futtle are so passionate about the benefits of choosing organic that they launched an organic food and drink festival this year. Direct from the East Neuk micro-brewery Futtle makes a refreshing range of organic beers, many with locally foraged ingredients. The company also sells a fabulous range of organic wines.

Bowhouse, St Monans KY10 2FB

The National: Pillars of HerculesPillars of Hercules (Image: Pillars of Hercules)

Pillars Of Hercules
Organic Farm Shop & Cafe

With a cafe and campsite attached and bordering on the beautiful Falkland estate, a visit to Pillars of Hercules can turn shopping for organic food into a day out. The farm where many of the vegetables are grown is right beside the shop. It’s fresh, seasonal and very local.

Falkland, Cupar KY15 7AD

The National: East Coast OrganicsEast Coast Organics (Image: East Coast Organics)

East Coast Organics

Providing Edinburgh and the Lothians with fresh vegetables for more than 20 years, East Coast Organics really knows its onions.

In sunny East Lothian it grows an amazing range of flavour-packed vegetables, available in veg box deliveries (by electric van), at its Edinburgh Farmers’ Market stall, and from its little shop on the farm. 

East Coast Organics Ltd. 24 Boggs Holdings, East Lothian EH34 5BD

The National: Mossgiel Organic FarmMossgiel Organic Farm (Image: Mossgiel Organic Farm)

Mossgiel Organic Farm

Mossgiel has utterly changed milk in Scotland. Mosgiel milk is organic, non-homogenised and comes in glass bottles. Animal welfare is paramount: a cow-with-calf approach allows natural weaning. The commitment to sustainability is evident in everything this young company does . . . and the milk is delicious too.  Available in farm shops across central Scotland.

Tarbolton Road, Mauchline, East Ayrshire KA5 5LL


The National: Nc’neanNc’nean (Image: Nc’nean)


Nc’nean does things differently – making light and aromatic whisky using organic barley and locally foraged botanicals in a remote distillery on the Morvern peninsula, with a huge emphasis on sustainability. Nc’nean promises that: “By drinking one bottle of our organic spirit you are securing two square metres of biodiversity and soil health.” We say: ‘Cheers to that!’

Drimnin, By Lochaline, Morvern PA80 5XZ

The National: Connage Highland DairyConnage Highland Dairy (Image: Connage Highland Dairy)

Connage Highland Dairy

This is a true family business, run by two brothers and their wives, with a herd of 150 happy cows on an organic farm at Ardersier. Connage Highland Dairy produces organic Dunlop, Gouda, Cromal, Crowdie and cheese board favourite Clava Brie. At The Cheese Pantry try the full range, plus guest cheeses from across Europe.

Ardersier, Inverness IV2 7QU

The National: Black Isle BreweryBlack Isle Brewery (Image: Black Isle Brewery)

Black Isle Brewery

Organic brewing pioneer Black Isle Brewery takes the notion of sustainability very seriously. Using organic barley and hops it brews a brilliant range of tasty beers, all of which are available at its brewery shop and its Inverness and Fort William bars (and in plenty of other pubs and shops too).

Increasing the biodiversity on its small farm is the goal, with more
than 7000 trees being planted
to date.

Black Isle, IV8 8NZ

The National: Dear Green CoffeeDear Green Coffee (Image: Dear Green Coffee)

Dear Green Coffee

Ethically sourced and expertly roasted, Dear Green Coffee proves that coffee can be both sustainable and truly delicious. It was one of the first Scottish companies to gain B Corp. status, which measures a company’s entire social and environmental impact.

Try its new organic Dear Green City Blend, which comes with notes of chocolate, caramel and cherry.  

Dear Green Roastery, Unit 2, 13-27 East Campbell Street, Glasgow G1 5DT