Healthy Tips

Going Organic in Canada?

Who, What, Why, Where, and How to Go Organic in Canada.

We hear the word “organic” all the time. We are told it’s a good thing. But what does it mean to go organic and why is it worth considering?

Organic refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Specifically, organic designations refer to the use of environmentally- and animal-friendly farming methods. Certification of these items tells you that every step from farm to shelf has protected and maintained the organic integrity.

In Canada, this system is overseen by government organic standards and regulations, and applies to both domestic and imported products. People worldwide recognize Canada’s organic standards. Regulators place strict limits and prohibitions on the use of toxic and persistent pesticides; synthetic fertilizers; the routine use of drugs, antibiotics or synthetic hormones; animal cloning; Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs); sewage sludge (biosolids); and irradiation. These standards also forbid the use of artificial food colours, flavours, sweeteners, preservatives and many other processing aids and ingredients commonly found in processed foods.

Canadian organics are the most heavily regulated and scrutinized food system. This makes it easy for you to help our environment while also choosing great-tasting, healthy food for you and your family.

Farmer On Organic Farm Using Digital Tablet

Who grows organic in Canada?

There are more than 3,700 organic farms in Canada covering 825,000 hectares of land. Each farm produces fresh, home-grown food that’s nutritious, tastes great and is good for our environment and communities. These farms employ more than 11,000 agricultural workers, making Canada the 4th largest organic market in the world. On average, this industry contributes more than $3.5 billion to our economy annually. Over 20 million Canadians choose organic options for their groceries each week.

Organic farming is catching on fast in Canada. A recent survey found that 59 per cent of Canadians believe organic farming is better for a healthy environment. While the total number of farms in Canada declined by 17 per cent since 2001, the number of organic farms grew by 66.5 per cent. The industry is strongly attracting the next generation of farmers, too.  While eight per cent of farmers in Canada are under 35, this percentage rises to 12 per cent among organic farmers.

Closeup of a males hand planting seeds

Where can you find organic food?

Organic products are always certified, so always look for this symbol:

Canada Organic Certification symbol

You can find a variety of certified products at any of our six Vita Health Fresh Market locations around Winnipeg. Check here for the store nearest you.

How can you go organic at home?

Certified products must pass stringent regulatory requirements. Look for a “Canada Organic” or “USDA Organic” logo on your foods so you can be sure they meet these criteria.

Start small, and progress slowly. It’s never too late to “go organic”. Environmental Working Group developed as simple guide called the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen. Using this guide is a great way to do this on a budget. Follow this simple guide in order to minimize your consumption of pesticides by as much as 80 per cent.

“The Dirty Dozen” are the foods that showed the highest amount of pesticide residues, even after they were washed with high-power pressure water systems. Commonly consumed foods in this group include apples, potatoes, lettuce and grapes. When you’re buying these pieces of produce, you can opt for the organic selection.

“The Clean Fifteen” are good to grab and go wherever you are, from the grocery store or the famers’ market. They contain significantly less pesticide residue compared to the dirty dozen.

Farmer pushing a wheelbarrow full of produce

Organic Facts

Did you know there are 3,732 organic farms in Canada covering 825,000 hectares of land? Check out the infographic below for more facts.

CHFA Organic Week Infographic

This information was provided courtesy of Think Canada Organic in partnership with the Canada Organic Trade Association and with support from Agriculture and AgriFood Canada through Growing Forward 2.  For more reasons why to go organic visit thinkcanadaorganic.ca.


This article was originally published on CHFA.ca

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