There is an ever growing debate about organic food gaining momentum in popular social groups around the world. People are asking whether organic food is real or just a big waste of money. Just like any other issue that is complex like organic food, this issue will have very polarizing answers. I want to help the consumer understand the cost and regulation of organic food.
1. Farmers in Canada need to meet fairly strict regulations for food to be labelled organic.
The Health Canada branch called “The Canada Organic Regime” is the Government of Canada’s response to requests by the organic sector and consumers to develop a regulated system for organic agricultural products. The Organic Products Regulations (the Regulations) define specific requirements for organic products to be labelled as organic or that bear the organic agricultural product legend (logo). The regulations came into effect on June 30, 2009. Inspectors make sure farms comply. http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/organic-products/labelling-and-general-information/certified-choice/eng/1328082717777/1328082783032
These regulations include:
• no use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides;
• no use of irradiation to preserve food;
• no use of genetically engineered organisms;
• no intensive feedlots (large holding pens that are often cramped and unsanitary) for livestock; and
• no use of raw (and potentially highly contaminated) manure to fertilize fields.
When a food has been certified, it will carry labels that will verify that the products are organic.
2. Organic food is more expensive, why?
Organic foods do tend to cost more than other vegetable products for two reasons. First, organic farming is an expensive and labour-intensive practice. Farmers have to do things like crop rotation, preservation of natural habitats and weeding by hand. Non-GMO seeds are harder to find and are more expensive. In the end all this hard work yields a small crop. Pesticides, herbicides and chemicals make all the above faster and give traditional farmers a bigger harvest, therefore are able to sell foods at a lower price. But at what cost? We are all eating chemically laced foods that are unhealthy for our body to begin with.
Secondly, many organic farmers do not receive the same government subsidies as some conventional farmers do. However, if organic produce is grown locally, it may be cheaper than the same fruit or vegetable farmed conventionally.
I will continue to bring you more information about organic food. Hopefully this information will help you win that next debate around the family dinner table. Vote with your dollars and tell the industry you love organic.
By: Dr Elias Markou, ND