Post written by Erika Geisheimer
This week is Organic Week! For many organic farmers and health food enthusiasts, this week is a time to celebrate and to spread awareness about the importance of choosing organic for our health and the environment. For most consumers, buying organic is expensive, and therefore no value is seen purchasing an organically grown potato over a conventional one. So, as we celebrate Organic Week, we must remember why organic farming practices are so crucial and what that means for us.
Organic products must meet extremely strict national standards and is the most heavily regulated and scrutinized food system in Canada. Organic farming practices prohibit the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, synthetic growth regulators, irradiation, animal cloning, and anything that is genetically engineered. It also prohibits the use of synthetic substances in organic food production including artificial preservatives. Organic farms are also inspected regularly to ensure they are managing their land and life around water systems carefully.
Organic farming is more focused on the sustainability of the land than food production. Building healthy soil microbiology with sustainable practices will leave the area healthy and strong for future generations. Organic producers also preserve genetic diversity among plants and animals by saving seeds and growing heirloom varieties, and raising rare varieties of livestock. Organic farmers work in harmony with nature, building healthy ecosystems and have higher biodiversity of species. The loss of a large variety of species is one of the most pressing environmental concerns today. Organic agricultural methods reduce pollution and wasted energy. Fertilizers used on conventional farms often are fossil-fuel-based fertilizers that require much more energy to produce than to cultivate and harvest crops or even to transport them. Organic practices can use as little as half the power of other farming methods according to Canadian studies.
Organic farming is better for your health and the health of the farmer. Herbicides and insecticides have been found to be carcinogenic (a substance capable of causing cancer), hormone replicators, and harmful to the development of children. The residue of these herbicides and insecticides has been found on and in conventionally grown foods. Consuming organic meat and produce will significantly reduce your exposure to these chemical residues. For the farmer and their family, choosing to be organic dramatically reduces their exposure to these chemicals and their detrimental effects. It will benefit them financially as well. On average, organic farming families earn more from their farm than the typical conventional Canadian farm does, according to the Census of Agriculture. They also employ more people per farm.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have been a hot topic these days and if you are looking to avoid GMOs, look for the Canada Organic symbol. A GMO is any organism whose genetic material has been modified using genetic engineering techniques. This means that DNA is taken from one species and added to the DNA of an entirely different species to enhance a crop to have specific qualities. Genetic engineering is completely different from cross-pollinating as cross-pollination can happen naturally, and the long-term effects of genetic engineering on our food to our health are unknown. The good news is that GMOs are not allowed in organic farming practices. Also, Organic is the only government overseen non-GMO certification.
Organics are something to celebrate! Whether it be for their environmental impact, health benefits or just because they taste so much better (better soil produces a healthier, more flavourful crop), try adding organically grown food to your grocery list. Check out local farmers markets to meet the farmers who grow your organic produce and raise your organic meats. Also, don’t forget your local health food store where you will find organic food all year round. Organic is the way nature intended it for a healthier planet and healthier people. Happy Organic Week Everyone!