The organic industry in Canada is growing fast and the options for Canadians choosing to go organic are on the rise as well. Many Canadians are still unsure of the benefits of opting for certified organic products. The Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA), along with the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) and the Canadian Organic Growers (COG), are teaming up to help Canadians celebrate the bounty of Organic Week this September 20 to 28. Read on for the “who, what, where, why and how” Canadians can go organic this fall.
What does going organic mean in Canada?
It seems that organic is on everyone’s lips these days, but what does “organic” really mean?
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. Guided by these and other standards, organic is now the most heavily regulated and scrutinized food system in Canada, letting you help our environment while also choosing great tasting, healthy food for you and your family.
Who grows organic in Canada?
Did you know there are 3,732 organic farms in Canada covering 825 thousand hectares of land? Each producing fresh, home-grown food that is nutritious, tastes great and is good for our environment and communities. These farms employ 11,167 agricultural workers, making Canada the fourth largest market for organics in the world. On average, the organics industry brings in $3.5 billion in sales annually and over 20 million Canadians choose organic options for their groceries each week. Organic farming is catching on fast in Canada. A recent survey found that 59 per cent of Canadians believe organic farming is better for a healthy environment. While total farms in Canada declined by 17 per cent since 2001, organic farms grew by 66.5 per cent. The industry is strongly attracting the next generation of farmers, too. While eight per cent of farmers in Canada are under 35, this percentage rises to 12 per cent among organic farmers.
Where can you find organic food?
Did you know that Canada has a wide variety of organic products, all to be found at a store near you? By simply visiting chfa.ca and typing your postal code into the “Find a Retailer” tool you can find the closest natural health food store to you that carries organic products (or just pop into the Organic Grocer!). Organic products are getting easier and easier to find. It is now easier than ever to find certified organic options at cafés and restaurants, farmers’ markets and through food-box delivery programs or community supported agriculture. And remember, always look for the “Canada Organic” logo—Organic products are always certified, so look for this symbol:
How can you go organic at home?
It’s as easy as choosing certified organic foods! Certified organic products must pass stringent regulatory requirements, so look for a “Canada Organic” or “USDA Organic” logo on your foods to be confident they meet these criteria. Start small, and progress slowly. It’s never too late to “go organic”. Check out chfa.ca to learn about the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen. By following this simple guide, developed by the Environmental Working Group, you can minimize your consumption of pesticides by as much as 80 per cent leading to better health for your whole family. “The Dirty Dozen”; 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 Section.
“The Clean Fifteen” are good to grab and go wherever you are, from the grocery store or the famers market. They contain significantly less pesticide residue compared to the dirty dozen.
Once you have done your shopping you can share the love and prepare a special meal for your friends and family or host a dinner party showcasing some interesting organic ingredients.
This information was provided courtesy of Think Canada Organic in partnership with the Canada Organic Trade Association and with support from Agriculture and AgriFood Canada through Growing Forward 2.
For more reasons why to go organic visit thinkcanadaorganic.ca or chfa.ca.