What are Organic Foods?

Thursday December 17, 2015

5 reasons organic food is a no brainer

Organic foods have taken the world by storm in recent years as more people become aware of the connection between the foods that they eat, their health, and the well-being of the environment.  But these ideas are nothing new at Community.  Since it was founded in 1977, Community Natural Foods has been deeply committed to the principles underlying organic agriculture.  Our wide range of certified organic foods have always been chosen with the earth’s and your health in mind.  Organic agriculture captures and preserves the richness of the sun and soil, so that the end result is the most vital product possible, and you get the greatest benefit from what you eat.

What is Organic?

Organic foods are grown and processed according to an agricultural method known as organic farming.  Unlike conventional farming, which controls pests using synthetic chemicals, organic farmers try to optimize the plant’s own natural defenses against disease, by building up a rich soil overflowing with life-giving nutrients.  It just makes sense: by eating stronger, healthier more nutrient-dense plants, those same benefits are passed on to you!

The Canadian Corporate and Consumer Affairs Ministry has developed a rigorous code regarding any item which claims to be “organic”, “organically produced”, ”organically grown”, “certified organic” or claims any other variation or use of the word “organic”.  In order to label itself using any of the above terms, a product must adhere to the following conditions:

  • Food described using the term “organic” or its derivatives is a product of organic farming that is a system of farm design and managerial practices which achieve sustainable productivity, and provide weed and pest control, through a diverse mix of mutually dependent life forms, recycling of plant and animal residues, crop selection and rotation, water management, tillage and cultivation.  Soil fertility is maintained and enhanced by a system that optimizes soil biological activity as the means to provide nutrients for plant and animal life as well as conserve soil reserves.
  • In keeping with soil health and environment considerations, pest and disease management is attained by means of the encouragement of a balanced host/predator relationship, augmentation of beneficial insect populations, biological and cultural controls and mechanical removal of pests and affected plant parts.
  • If a production unit has been farmed conventionally, a minimum of 3-year transition period is required to achieve organic status.  During the transitional period strict organic practices must be followed.
  • Organic foods and their ingredients are processed, packaged, transported and stored to retain maximum nutritional value.  Packaging must not react with its contents.
  • Organic food production prohibits the use of highly soluble or synthetically compounded mineral fertilizers, synthetically compounded pesticides, fungicides, preservatives, coloring or other artificial additives, ionizing irradiation and recombinant genetic manipulation of plants or animals.
  • Organic livestock is raised under conditions of minimal stress including reasonable freedom of movement, lack of crowding, and access to sunshine, fresh air and water.  All grains, forages and protein supplements fed to the animals must be organically grown.  Animal health must be maintained without the use of antibiotics, synthetic growth promoters, hormones or similar products.  Slaughtering and processing must be done under humane and sanitary conditions.
  • All enterprises selling organic foods must maintain an accurate and comprehensive auditable record of production and handling.  Records must be retained for a period of 3 years for all products that are sold as organically produced.  These records will be further strengthened by independent and third party verification of growing, processing, packaging, transportation, warehousing and retailing procedure.

Organic farmers:

  • Do not use chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or fertilizers;
  • Are forbidden from practicing irradiation or genetic manipulation;
  • Alternate growing different crops on different fields year after year, to control insects;
  • Compost plant and animal wastes to fertilize the soil and help it to retain moisture and nutrients;
  • Practice mulching and plant cover crops such as clover to reduce weed growth;
  • Release beneficial insects to prey on pests;
  • Raise livestock under conditions of minimal stress, allowing for their freedom of movement, lack of crowding, access to sunshine, fresh air and water;
  • Feed livestock only organically grown foods;
  • Do not treat their livestock with growth regulators, antibiotics, or hormones.