January 16th: DAY 4 – Organic defined

Still feeling great on my local, vegan diet, I decided to transfer this energy into exploring further the terms of organic vs. non organic and free range vs. free run. When it comes down to it, I am being a vegan and eating locally for the environment, freshness in food (and confidence in the quality), support rural communities, supporting ethical procedures and to treat animals humanely… so why wouldn’t I go organic too?

Organic: “Organic farming promotes the sustainable health and productivity of the ecosystem – the soil, plants, animals and people. This means that organic foods are farmed in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible way, focusing on soil regeneration, water conservation and animal welfare. In 2009, the federal government introduced the Canada Organic Standard. Organic producers are prohibited from using synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides, antibiotics, and GMOs. Animals must have access to the outdoors. Organic producers focus on soil health, and employ agro-ecological practices like crop rotation, companion planting, and composting. Companies that can make the claim to be ‘certified’ organic have received accreditation from a recognized certifying body” (source: foodlink.ca)

“The general principles of organic production include the following:

  1. Protect the environment, minimize soil degradation and erosion, decrease pollution, optimize biological productivity and promote a sound state of health.
2. Maintain long term soil fertility by optimizing conditions for biological activity within the soil.
3. Maintain biological diversity within the system.
4. Recycle materials and resources to the greatest extent possible within the enterprise.
5. Provide attentive care that promotes the health and meets the behavioural needs of livestock.
6. Prepare organic products, emphasizing careful processing and handling methods in order to maintain the organic integrity and vital qualities of the products at all stages of production. (source: Janine Gibson from the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada Website)

Looking more into free range vs. free run, we can see the two have distinct differences:

Free range: Free-range eggs are laid in environments similar to free-run eggs, but hens also have access to the outdoors. For that reason, these eggs are seasonally available in Canada, and most come from British Columbia. (source: foodlink.ca)

Free run: Free-run eggs are produced by hens that can move around the floor of the barn. Hens have access to nesting boxes and, quite often, perches. While the space per hen may not be much greater than for caged birds, the welfare of free-run hens is generally superior to those kept in cages. (source: foodlink.ca)

Organic eggs: Organic eggs are produced by hens fed certified organic grains, and raised under the most humane requirements for egg production systems. (source: foodlink.ca)

If you are looking to buy any organic – grass fed meat, check out: http://www.vibrantfarms.com/customer-page/buy-vibrant/

Even though non-organic may be cheaper in price, it is cheaper with a higher cost. A high cost of more chemicals, the terms of work of the farmers, the cost to the environment, wildlife and ecological systems. It is always a hard decision to choose to buy organic and spend more money but making a more informed choice, or buying non-organic and paying a higher price in quality. Sometimes we will choose organic and sometimes we will choose the later. If you are choosing to not buy organic, keep the ‘dirty dozen’ and ‘clean fifteen’ in mind (produces that is sprayed the most, and the least): http://www.thegardenbasket.ca/nourishing-news/298/ and http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/

David Suzuki has taken this concept of “the dirty dozen” one step further and actually named all these chemicals that we are talking about here: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/downloads/Dirty-dozen-backgrounder.pdf

This does not only apply to produce but also cosmetics: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/dirty-dozen-cosmetic-chemicals/

To learn more about certifications, brands, labeling, food and the environment, marketing or sales, livestock productions or nutrition and health, I encourage you to read up on it yourself and make your own informed choices. If you live in Ontario, www.foodlink.ca is a great way to start!

Happy reading 🙂

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