Glad you asked.
On one hand I’m a tad confused.
On the other hand the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) aka the your federal overseer of everything foodie including the organic industry in this country, defines organic thusly:
An organic product is an agricultural product that has been certified as organic. A product can be certified if it is produced using the methods outlined by the Canadian Organic Standards.
Understand the methods outlined by the Canadian Organic Standards and you understand organics.
Ya. Good luck with that.
Ever known an onion to have one layer? Of course not. It wouldn’t be an onion otherwise.
So what does organic really mean to you at the check-out counter? The reality requires a leap of faith. The Canadian organic industry, in all its infancy is asking for your trust.
Is your trust misplaced?
Maybe. More on that later.
The system isn’t perfect however, it would be virtually impossible for certified organic growers, producers, packers, and resellers to be disingenuous for a couple of reasons.
One: It is not in our best interest and two: why would an operation endure the headache and expense of the audit process unless they weren’t serious about organics?
But shit happens. More on that later too.
So you’ve made it this far. Might as well get comfortable. Have a sip.
COR (Canadian Organic Regime) the outer layer of the onion 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 define specific requirements for organic products to be labelled as organic or that bear the Canada Organic logo. All organic products bearing the Canada Organic logo
or represented as organic in interprovincial and international trade must comply with the Organic Products Regulations.
COR was been developed to:
- Protect consumers against misleading or deceptive labelling practices;
- Reduce consumer confusion about the definition of organic;
- Facilitate the access of Canadian organic products to foreign markets that require regulatory oversight; and
- Support further development of the domestic market.
These regulations which came into effect on June 30, 2009 are monitored and enforced by the CFIA through one of several CB’s (Certification Bodies) who are accredited and responsible for verifying the application of the Canadian Organic Standards.
For us on the ground this means we choose to belong to an appropriate CB who dispatches a VO (verification officer) who in turn performs an annual onsite audit to verify our compliance to COR. These VO’s are independent contractors and are in no way to be confused as an employee functioning on behalf of a Certifying Body.
So understanding CB’s.
Most CB’s are umbrellaed under provincial oversight. For example in BC we have the COABC (Certified Organic Association of BC) who:
is an umbrella association representing organic certifying [bodies] agencies in the province.
An ‘agricultural organization’ will choose to belong to a sympathetic CB with a mandate that best suits the certifying needs of that organizations.
Some CB’s are regional in scope which means they certify individual operations with local to provincial markets. Others like ours, PACS (Pacific Agricultural Certification Society) are ISO compliant which means they are inter-provincial and international in scope as well as addressing local concerns.
Suffice it to say there are a shit load CB’s in this country and they are all mandated to adhere to the core values of COR.
Heh… see what I did there.
So this means the Canadian certified organic industry is administered by CBs who adhere to and interpret COR when granting annual organic certification based upon audits performed by an independent third party VO.
This rube is confident that by the time I get to the check out counter I am able to vote confidently with my wallet.