Austria is number one in the EU for organic farming. Around 26% of the country is farmed organically and every fifth farm is organic.
The Land of the Alps is therefore also the land of organic food: from strong and flavoursome Bergkäse (alpine cheese) to delicately nutty semi-hard cheese and creamy soft cheese, and from yogurt to quark and drinking milk. Meat and sausage specialities can also be produced organically – from speck ham to hard smoked sausages and from spreads to fresh produce. Fruit, vegetables, grains, fish, eggs, honey and refined products complete the range of organic produce on offer.
The AMA Organic Seal is the officially recognised mark of quality for food from organic agriculture. It stands for excellent quality, organic production and strict controls. It is based on precise criteria which are set out in guidelines. These are checked at regular intervals, ensuring organic production.
Principles of organic farming
The principles of organic farming reject the use of synthetic chemical pesticides and easily soluble mineral fertilisers. The preservation of soil health and fertility is guaranteed through low-impact cultivation; natural fertilisers are used and a well-balanced crop rotation is observed. Natural regulatory mechanisms and self-healing processes in intact ecosystems (beneficial organisms) are promoted. The use of genetic engineering is prohibited in all areas of organic agriculture.
Animals have adequate space in the barn and an obligatory outdoor range. This has a positive effect on their well-being. In accordance with organic farming regulations, fewer animals are allowed to be kept per hectare of land than in conventional agriculture. The feed originates exclusively from organic cultivation and is 100% GMO-free. Organic animals have a longer fattening period and are slaughtered later.
Austrian supermarkets have been selling organic food products for around 25 years. Therefore, it has been possible to develop long-term business prospects, and market shares are continuing to increase. Organic products from the Land of the Alps is a sought-after ambassador of naturalness and sustainability in international markets too.
Alpine cheese has a long tradition in the Land of the Alps. Generations of farmers have sought ways of preserving and refining milk, an especially valuable commodity.
In the Land of the Alps, speck ham (air dried ham) is an alpine speciality with a long tradition. Its production requires a great deal of experience, patience, knowledge and natural raw materials.
Haymilk has been produced in the Land of the Alps since time immemorial. It is a very natural and traditional method of milk production. Haymilk cows are fed exclusively on grasses and herbs.