Organic: of, relating to, or derived from living organisms organic evolution (2) : of, relating to, yielding, or involving the use of food produced with the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides.
(Merriam Webster Dictionary)
If you read part one of this blog post, you should now have at least a basic understanding of what organic agriculture entails. Now I'd like to address a few more questions that are often raised surrounding this topic. If there are any I missed that you'd like an answer to, feel free to leave it in the comments section of this post!
To start off--because I'm a person that likes the big picture, and knowing the history of any given topic--let's look for a moment at the "rise of organic agriculture"...dum dum duuuuuum. The demand for organic foods, and the beginning of it's rise really just started about 15 years ago. It is a world market, not confined to just North America or any one part of the world. Much of Canada's organic food is imported, though we do export as well.
In Canada, there's been about a 10% increase in the amount of organic products being grown in the past few years. It was reported in 2007 that there were 669 organic farms with over 100,000 acres of pastureland and crops that were certified organic. Livestock production has been increasing as well, as originally the bigger product was fruits and veggies and such. The increase in organic products as a whole is expected to continue increasing by at least 10% and up to 20% in
the coming years. Check out the graph above and the table below, if your brain works like mine and that will help you think about the information! Both are from 2006 and 2001 census's, as there isn't newer data. But take a peek nonetheless to get an idea of the trends in Canadian organic farming!
A quick definition too, so we know what we're talking about. "Certified Organic". What does that mean? To be certified, a product must meet the criteria of one of the certifying boards in Canada. That part was probably obvious. It means that the farmer has upheld the organic integrity of the product, and have all the proper paperwork to say so in case of an audit. This also applies to processors and traders. There are also certain guidelines on imported and exported organic goods. If something is certified organic, it will have a seal similar to the one below to signify it as such. The specific guidelines for bearing the seal are as follows: "Food products labelled as organic must contain at least 95 per cent organic ingredients (not including water and salt) and can bear the Canada Organic logo. Multi-ingredient products with 70 per cent to 95 per cent organic product content may be labelled with the declaration: “% organic ingredients”. Multi-ingredient products with less than 70 per cent organic content may identify the organic components in the ingredient list." (Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs).
Expanding on that definition, another question I've heard is how do you know something is really organic? Couldn't anyone make claims about a product's origins that may or may not be accurate? Really, the bottom line is just educating yourself to know who the certifying bodies are, and what products can be certified organic. For example, federal regulations apply to food and drink intended for consumption by humans, and by animals as well as organic cultivation of plants. What it does not include is other products such as cosmetics, fertilizers, health care products, pet food, fibres, etc. So any organic label on any of these--while it may be true--are not regulated in any way by the government or any certifying bodies. For more information of certification, see www.ontario.ca/organic or the CFIA website.
Next question...why organic? There are two aspects to this question; the first for the food producers: why farm organically, and the second--for the consumer--why buy organic? Both have pretty much the same answer. As I think I've mentioned in other posts, I enjoy lists, so here is a list of 5 reasons that people both farm organically and buy organic products:
1. Concerns for the environment with using agricultural chemicals
2. Concerns for the amount of energy used in conventional farming
3. More sustainable
4. Avoidance of GMO's
5. Health benefits in organic foods; also often personally rewarding for farmers and consumers
I hope this brief look into organic farming has been helpful; as I mentioned earlier in the post, feel free to leave us any comments or questions below!
See you later.
All information for this article, as well as all charts, tables and figures were tables from Statistics Canada and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs.