What Does Organic Mean?
What is organic? Organic is a word that you will see on our own meats, sausages and deli, many food products at your local farmers market and your grocery store. This word has become mainstream and you will see it used everywhere. Many consumers know that organic is better but what does organic mean.
Certified Organic Means:
No GMO’s. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) have always been prohibited in organic production. They are not allowed to be used as seed, in feed, or any ingredients in any organic products. Currently there are over 9 genetically modified crops approved for sale in Canada. These include some of the most common ingredients in many of the foods available, including corn, canola, soy, sugar beets (used to make sugar). By buying certified organic you can ensure that you are not consuming genetically modified food.
Synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers are not allowed in organic production. For crops this means that these man made chemicals are never applied to them. For animal production this means that the feed that the animals eat and the pasture that they are raised on has not had any of these chemicals applied. Glyphosate (commonly known as Roundup) is one of many chemicals that are applied to crops in conventional farming. This chemical is increasingly shown to have a negative affect on human health. Fields will be sprayed multiple times throughout the year, with many different sprays in order to support monocropping. This results in higher greenhouse gas emissions (both in the production, transportation and application of these chemicals); higher levels of these chemicals in our air, water and soil; lower wildlife populations and less biodiversity; along with poor soil biome health. By buying organic products you can contribute to not only your own health by personally ingesting less chemicals but also to the health and welfare of the environment and wildlife.
Growth hormones and growth promoting drugs are prohibited in organic production. They are not allowed to be used at any time for any reason. Growth hormones are routinely used in conventional beef production in Canada. Seeing the organic label allows you to know that the beef that you are eating has not been fed any growth hormones. Growth hormones in chicken and pigs are not allowed in Canada. So instead, other growth promoteants are used to allow these animals to be grown in as short a time as possible. These include low dose constant antibiotics, and drugs including ractopamine (a drug used in pork, cattle and turkeys). Ractopamine is banned in many countries but is still allowed for use in Canada. In organic production these are banned and are not allowed to be used so you can know that you are not consuming meat that has been given these hormones and drugs.
Organic does not allow for the use of artificial colors or flavours, and does not allow for the use of chemical preservatives. This makes it easier to shop knowing that if you are buying organic you are able to avoid these chemicals.
Organic production also includes an animal welfare component that ensures that animals have access to pasture (when it is weather appropriate, for example chickens do not have to be outside in a Canadian winter), the outdoors and that they have more space than conventional space requirements.
In order to label food as organic the producer and manufacturer have to go through an independent audit of both their record keeping and of the land or production facility. Yearly, inspectors will come out and make sure that they are complying to the Canadian Organic Standard, which is administered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
These are just a small amount of what the organic standard covers but for us they are some of the most important. For the full organic standard https://www.inspection.gc.ca/.../1300368619837/1300368673172
The reason that we started buying organic products and raising organic meat is that we needed to produce clean food for our family. We wanted meat raised without the use of GMO’s, herbicides and pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics, and we wanted to buy items that were raised without chemical pesticides, herbicides and were free of chemicals, artificial coloring and flavouring. We also wanted to take care of the land that we owned and the wider environment as a whole. Being and buying organic helps us know that we are doing our best for our health, the health of the animals, the health of the land and the environment. Being and eating Organic is extremely important to us and is one of the core values on our farm and in our lives.
Your FarmersRon and Sheila Hamilton
- Sunworks Farm