Tag Archives: Certified Organic

What the F- -k is Organic Anyway?

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.

There, simple.

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.

Lovely.

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

Canada Organic

Canada Organic

or represented as organic in interprovincial and international trade must comply with the Organic Products Regulations.

British Columbia Certified Organic

British Columbia Certified Organic

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.

Whatever.

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.

Trust me.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Prove Glyphosate is Safe

There is a yet another petition on Change.org and this one intrigues me. Similar to most petitions on ‘the worlds platform for change’ it is worded like a challenge: Health Canada: Prove glyphosate is safe.

Surprised that didn’t finish with two or three exclamation marks.

Obligatory Spray Shot

Obligatory Spray Shot

Anyway, to quote Tony Mitra, the author of the petition:

“…Glyphosate is the active ingredient in RoundUp and many other herbicides, and is the most used biocide in Canadian agriculture. Its safety has never been proven to the Canadian people… if [the government] has not sighted the safety test results, then it should cancel approval of Glyphosate, and ask the producer to provide this test results for scrutiny, and then disclose these results to the public, so these can be verified independently…”

The point being to prove via recognized scientific control standards that any input wether organic or not, is proven to be safe for human consumption.

All this time you and I along with most Canadians have been consuming produce that is, unless identified as certified organic, treated with glyphosate and collectively we have no idea what the long term effects are.

Are you f–king kidding me?

“Hey kid… have some candy”

Have Some Candy

Have Some Candy

As certified organic farmers we accept we must prepare for an annual audit where a section of that audit requires us to provide documentation of all inputs. As arduous as an C/O audit may be at the end of it there will exist a document that details our land stewardship, crop sustainability, and farming practices. Something which is not required of a conventional farmer.

A conventional farmer can, not that they do mind you… and hey look over there…candy, spray whatever shit they want in any amount they want for how ever long they want without being accountable to anyone. There is no mandatory  third party over sight for a conventional farmer.

So until that changes, yes Canada through our Minister of Health must protect Canadians with proof on the safety of glyphosate because the conventional farming industry won’t.

Consider this petition. Thanks! *off soapbox*


Thats Fair – Risk Guide for Produce

While it is easy to paint with a big brush is it always good to do so? No, not always. Too easy to cover up details with one thoughtless stroke. Lines get blurred and the balance becomes skewed like those between the organic and conventional farming industries.

Risk Guide for ProduceJustice Scale

Organic farmers have witnessed a dramatic increase in awareness and consumer support. Support exacted to a large extent at the expense of conventional farmers who have been taking it in on the chin lately for everything from pollution to cancer to God knows what…biological terrorism. Seriously? Not fair.

farmersdotter will never adopt conventional farming practices but that is our choice. Does that mean we are superior to all conventional farmers? No. No it doesn’t. Even if we like to think it does it definitely does not.

We could bore you. Rehash statistics and details. Regurgitate broad brush hyperbole linking conventionally farmed produce to a prolonged, tumor riddled, cancerous death. Not fair. There are radical factions within the organic industry who are as adept at peddling and spinning their ideology as the best zealots out there.

Courtesy Consumer Reports

Courtesy Consumer Reports

Having said that we think it important consumers make informed choices. We recently came across a Consumer Reports article about pesticides in produce that seems sensible, fair and balanced. Well worth consulting. Cheers!


Leave No Doubt What You are About

Today is our annual inspection from PACS the certifying body that grants our certified organic status.

Inspector Dude

Inspector Dude

We make the distinction and say certified organic as opposed to simply organic. Organic can apply to many things but within the BC farming community saying one is certified organic will leave no doubt what you are about.

To our understanding there is limited regulation in British Columbia when it comes to applying the term organic to describe livestock or produce production. That does not mean to say a grower who is not certified organic does not embrace organic standards. Most city gardeners and small scale growers choose to subscribe to some form of organic method. They simply choose not to certify and that is fair enough. There needs be some way for these growers to describe their methodology and organic does apply.

In order to protect the consumer a strict and high standard of quality assurance must exist and the best way to describe that must also involve a reference to organic. But how does one usurp a word for an exclusive purpose? Tricky and most probably why there remains confusion over exactly what organic means when one goes to buy a fricking apple from the market.

That is why we say certified organic. Its an extra word but it leaves no doubt.

When purchasing meat and produce from a supermarket we look for approved labeling when describing compliant products. Something non certified and most definitely conventionally grown products will not have. There are probably more labels available for use in BC but the three labels listed below are marketing examples farmersdotter organics are entitled to use with prior permission from our certifying body.

Organic Labels

Organic Labels accepted in BC

If we know the grower, and the grower is not certified yet happens to be organic in practice, we will purchase their products for personal consumption. Certification is a choice for a grower. Certification is not for everybody. Know your grower and vote with your wallet.

Also, there are three types of annoying sticky labels on produce. Conventional produce have a 4-digit code number. Organic produce has the same 4-digit code only preceded by the number 9. GMO’s has the same 4-digit code only preceded by the number 8 making it oh so easy to avoid Monsanto Monster Mashed Morsels at a grocer near you.

For more information on Certified Organics please visit:

COR Government of Canada’s regulated system for organic agricultural products.

COABC The program designated by BC as the provincial program administrator.


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