Why Buy Organic?

Sep 1, 2022

"Any food, seed, or animal feed that is labelled organic is regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Producers of these products must be prepared to demonstrate that organic claims are truthful and not misleading, and that all commodity-specific requirements have been met." Inspection Canada

This is essentially your assurance that you are getting what you pay for. Look for the Canadian or USDA organic labels on all packaged products you buy and for produce, there will be a sticker on the fruit or vegetable that starts with a 9 instead of a 4.

But what are some of the benefits of purchasing organic? Here are a few things to consider on why purchasing organic food is important.

1. Organic products meet stringent standards - Organic certification is the public’s assurance that products have been grown and handled according to strict procedures without persistent toxic chemical inputs.

2. Organic food tastes great! - It’s common sense; well-balanced soils produce strong, healthy plants that become nourishing food for people and animals.

3. Organic production reduces health risks - Many approved pesticides were registered long before extensive research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. Organic agriculture is one way to prevent any more of these chemicals from getting into the air, earth and water that sustain us.

4. Organic farms respect our water resources - The elimination of polluting chemicals and nitrogen leaching, done in combination with soil building, protects and conserves water resources.

5.  Organic farmers build healthy soil - Soil is the foundation of the food chain. The primary focus of organic farming is to use practices that build healthy soils.

6. Organic farmers work in harmony with nature - Organic agricultural respects the balance demanded of a healthy ecosystem: wildlife is encouraged by including forage crops in rotation and by retaining fence rows, wetlands, and other natural areas.

7. Organic producers strive to preserve diversity - The loss of a large variety of species (biodiversity) is one of the most pressing environmental concerns. The good news is that many organic farmers and gardeners have been collecting and preserving seeds, and growing unusual varieties for decades.

And finally, consider the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen when shopping for organics. (1-List source)

We can't speak about Organic without discussing GMO's. Let's dive a little deeper on what they are and why you should care...

What are GMOs?

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism – plants, animals and bacteria. GMOs are a product of human intervention; their DNA has been altered in a laboratory setting to achieve a desired quality that wouldn’t otherwise occur in nature. For example, a gene from a certain strain of bacteria might be added to a plant so that it becomes toxic to certain pests. This process of transferring the preferred genes of one organism to another is referred to as genetic engineering and is the process by which GMOs are created.

GMOs are most often recognized for their association with agricultural crops. Many crops are genetically engineered to increase their resistance to pests and disease, extend shelf life, enhance nutrients, etc. Some of the most common GMO crops include corn, soy, alfalfa, canola, sugar beets, papaya, zucchini and yellow summer squash. Dairy products are another common target of genetic modification. Certain ingredients and additives contained in dairy products are commonly produced from GMOs and/or the animals themselves have been given genetically modified feed or hormones.

Why should you care about GMOs?

Safety concerns around the production and consumption of genetically modified foods (GM foods) are becoming more and more prevalent. Health concerns include the potential for GM foods to cause allergic reactions and the transfer of antibiotic-resistant genes to our gut bacteria. There are also significant concerns related to the potential environmental impacts of GMOs, namely, the potential for GMOs to threaten wild species through cross-contamination, negatively impact non-target species, cause biodiversity loss and result in increased use of toxic chemicals to control weeds and pests that become resistant. But perhaps most disconcerting of all is simply the fact that we don’t fully understand how GM foods impact human health, nor the natural environment, yet they continue to propagate the market.

Moreover, in Canada we have no legislation or regulations that mandate the labelling of GM foods. While all GM foods and animal feed are subject to a “safety assessment” process prior to approval for market, a lack of clear labelling impedes one’s ability to make an informed choice about whether or not to consume GM foods (2 - All GMO Info)

While buying all organic products might not be feasible/available for a lot of us, I believe it is important that we try to purchase Organic when we can (i.e. - dirty dozen) and know the potential harmful impacts on our health and our planet. If anything, we should have a choice as consumers.

(1) Source – http://www.cog.ca

(2) Written By:  Laura-Leigh McKenzie

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