Once upon a time, all food was organic. Now a days, these foods are seen as “specialty items” that we have to intentionally search for while shopping. Unfortunately, in an attempt to increase food supply and efficiency, we have introduced risks to our health and environment. Going Organic is a very trendy topic right now and the public holds various ranges of expertise and opinions. The CHFA (Canadian Health Food Association) sheds some light on what Organic means to us here in Canada and gives several reasons on why to consider choosing Organic foods for yourselves and your families.
In response to the question, what does going Organic mean in Canada? CHFA responds:
“Organic refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed; organic food is produced using environmentally and animal-friendly farming methods. Organic certification lets consumers know that every step along the supply chain has protected and maintained the organic integrity that begins at the farm. In Canada, this system is overseen by government organic standards and regulations, and applies to both domestic and imported products. Canada’s organic standards are among the most widely recognized in the world, and place strict limits and prohibitions on the use of toxic and persistent pesticides; synthetic fertilizers; the routine use of drugs, antibiotics or synthetic hormones; animal cloning; genetic engineering (“GMOs”); sewage sludge (“biosolids”); and irradiation. Organic standards also forbid the use of artificial food colours, flavours, sweeteners, preservatives and many other processing aids and ingredients in processed foods.”
The CHFA also provides some clarity on “the dirty dozen” list and why it is especially important to choose Organic versions of these foods. Here is their definition:
“These foods showed the highest amount of pesticide residues, even after they were washed with high-power pressure water systems. Commonly consumed foods in this group include apples, potatoes, lettuce and grapes. When you’re buying these pieces of produce, opt for the organic selection.” Other foods on this list include celery, bell peppers, peaches/nectarines, strawberries, spinach, cucumbers and blueberries.
CHFA gives us the top 10 reasons to go Organic! Here is a brief summary…
1. Organic products meet strict national standards — The “Canada Organic” logo is the public’s assurance that products have been grown and handled according to strict procedures and rules.
2. Cut back on chemicals! — Many herbicides and insecticides commonly used in agriculture have been found to be carcinogenic, hormone disruptors, or have a negative impact on children’s development. Choosing certified organic products significantly reduces your exposure to chemical residues.
3. Organic farms take water seriously — Organic farmers are required to manage the land and life around water systems very carefully, and are inspected annually. By not using synthetic fertilizers and persistent toxic chemicals, organic farming is also easy on our precious water reserves.
4. Organic farmers work in harmony with nature — Organic agriculture builds healthy ecosystems, and organic farms have higher biodiversity on them and around them, which promotes sustainability and ecological balance.
5. Organic methods reduce pollution and wasted energy— More energy is used to produce synthetic fossil-fuel-based fertilizers than to cultivate and harvest crops or to transport food. Canadian studies have shown that organic farming practices can use as little as half the energy of other farming methods, and help to sequester carbon back into the soil.
6. Protect the health of farmers and children — Farmers exposed to pesticides can have a significantly higher risk of developing cancer compared to non-farmers. Children are relatively more exposed than adults when they ingest pesticide residues in food. Choosing organic products reduces the exposure for children and the farmers who grow their food.
7. Organic farmers build healthy soil — Soil is the foundation of the food chain. Organic farming is focused on using sustainable practices that build healthy soil microbiology and prevent erosion, leaving fertile land that will provide for future generations.
8. Organic farming is good for rural Canada — The Census of Agriculture has shown that, on average, organic farming families earn more from their farms than the typical Canadian farm does, and employ more people per farm too.
9. Organic producers strive to preserve genetic diversity — the loss of a large variety of species (biodiversity) is one of the most pressing environmental concerns of our day. The good news is that many organic farmers have been collecting and preserving seeds and growing heirloom varieties and rare breeds of livestock for decades.
10. Organic is the only non-GMO standard overseen by the Canadian government — organic standards forbid the use of GMOs in seeds, in animal feed, and in the ingredients of processed organic food and products. If you’re concerned about GMOs, think before you eat: think Canada Organic!