Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Just because it says it's "Organic" doesn't mean it is...

I read this in City Food Magazine and it struck a cord:

"Truth: In a recent poll conducted by Angus Reid, more than half of Canadians surveyed (57 percent) said they were concerned that the organic products they purchased might not truly be organic. To address this issue, the Canadian Government recently implemented a new Organic Products Regulation which includes the Canada Organic Logo. The logo guarantees that products contain at least 95 per cent organic ingredients."

1. But what does the Canadian Organic logo really mean? It's like an onion skin the more you dig into the facts...

The Canada Organic label states that these substances or procedures are forbidden:
  • All materials and products produced from genetic engineering.
  • Synthetic pesticides, wood preservatives or other pesticides, except as specified in CAN/CGSB-32.31.
  • Fertilizer or composted plant and animal material that contains a prohibited substance.
  • Sewage sludge used as a soil amendment.
  • Synthetic growth regulators.
CBC article on organic regulations
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Consumers Association Article on Organics
USDA organic label info
Article on USDA organic scandal

Get involved in your community farms:
Growing Chefs - Projects in Urban Agriculture for Children
Farm Folk City Folk


  1. Having talked to many farmer's at the Van farmer's markets I think it's also important to know that many smaller farms may not be certified but are indeed 'organic' and sustainable. Like Robin said, you have to do your research and don't depend on others to tell you what's good for you or not!

  2. There actually IS an organic police dep't., run by the Certified Organic Associations of BC (COABC). They oversee a number of organic certifying bodies who annually require members to submit records and be subjected to a farm inspection. Evidence that the farm is not practicing what they preach could lead to loss of organic status. An option to do a surprise inspection exists with all of these bodies. All of these farmers and bodies are subject to the Canadian organic standard.
    On the other hand, farmers who advise customers that they are "organic" or "spray free" are free to change their mind tomorrow and simply add to the customer's confusion over what is or isn't organically grown. Certified organic farmers are being watched. No other farmers are. Who would you trust?
    Swallow Tail, as "a person obsessed with food and wine", if you had truly dug into the facts this is what you would have discovered. There indeed are a lot of certified organic farmers in BC who are regulated but even more importantly are committed to sustainable farming practices that deliver good food today, and hopefully tomorrow.
    The Farmer@ Valentine Farm, Summerland

  3. I'm in full support of the organic food movement, but as far as I know the COABC is not a government organization. According to the Consumer's Association of BC (article link above), "Organic inspections are currently carried out with advance notification, and focus solely on reviewing the records of the person seeking certification, along with a perfunctory observation of some farm fields or areas of a processing facility." In the end, I really believe that most organic farmers aren't trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes, but I find it's best to get more information (by meeting your farmers) rather than trusting an organic stamp to buy your food.