A 2015 survey on organic food showed that 69% buy it, 20% understand it, 72% think it’s just about marketing and 53% don’t trust it. Perhaps you have heard comments stating that “organic” is simply a buzz word used to overcharge people. Maybe you are among those that believe anyone can slap this claim on their product without differentiating themselves in any way. Regardless, it’s clear that this term is misunderstood and that more information is needed on what it means and how it is enforced in order for it to be properly appreciated.
What Does “Organic” Mean?
According to the Canadian Health Food Association, the term “Organic” refers to the way products are grown and processed. More specifically, this food is produced in a holistic way, using harmonious, environmentally and animal-friendly farming methods. Certification assures consumers that every step from farm to table has protected and maintained the product’s integrity.
Organic is about more than just nutrition and safety, as these principles are based on ecology, health, fairness and care! By choosing organic, we help support pro-active sustainable farming practices that focus on conserving soil health and water. Organic farmers also use renewable resources to grow their crops and avoid synthetic chemicals.
When in doubt, we can look at how things are done in nature as it holds the answer and many will agree that organic standards coincide with nature’s processes!
What Are Organic Standards?
Organic certification “places 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; Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs); sewage sludge (bio solids); and irradiation. Organic standards also forbid the use of artificial food colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and many other processing aids and ingredients commonly found in processed foods (CHFA).”
Is Organic Certification Enforced?
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 is the most heavily scrutinized and regulated food system in Canada.
DID YOU KNOW? In order to obtain certification, a farm must be managed using organic practices for 3 years prior to harvest of the first certified organic crop!
Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA)’s “10 Great Reasons to Go Organic”!
- Organic products meet strict national standards
Assurance that products have been grown and handled according to strict procedures and rules.
- Cut back on chemicals!
Choosing certified organic significantly reduces your exposure to toxic chemical residues. Organic farming practices focus on ppreventative and proactive pest management techniques.
- Organic farms take water seriously
Organic farmers are required to manage the land and life around water systems very carefully.
- Organic farmers work in harmony with nature
A survey found that 59% of Canadians believe organic farming is better for a healthy environment. It builds healthy ecosystems and has higher biodiversity, which promotes sustainability and balance.
- Organic methods reduce pollution and wasted energy
Practices can use as little as half the energy of other farming methods! They rely on renewable resources, recycle materials as much as possible and strive to protect the environment.
- Organic practices protect the health of farmers and animals
Choosing organic reduces the exposure for families and the farmers who grow their food. Organic standards also ensure that attentive care is given to livestock (health, housing, feed and behavior) in order to meet their needs and promote wellbeing.
- Organic farmers build healthy soil
Focused on using sustainable practices such as crop rotation, that build healthy soil and prevent erosion/degradation.
- Organic farming is good for rural Canada
3,700 organic farms in Canada. 11,167 Canadian employees. Contribution of over $3.5 billion to our economy.
- Organic producers strive to preserve genetic diversity
Many organic farmers collect and preserve seeds and grow heirloom varieties and rare breeds of livestock.
- The only non-GMO standard overseen by the Canadian government
Organic standards forbid the use of Genetically Modified Organisms in seeds, animal feed, and ingredients.
To be sure you are getting a certified product, look for the Canada Organic logo, which can only appear on foods that are 95% or more “organic”. Note that many smaller growers can’t afford to get organic certification, which is why it’s advised to talk to local growers and ask them about their farming practices.
Now that we have discussed the issue of validity when it comes to all things “organic”, visit our column in the upcoming weeks as we tap into common concerns regarding nutritional value and budget.
-This Column in Sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach-