rganic stakeholders and
representative groups across the country applaud! On
September 2, 2006, the federal government released its proposed
"Organic Products Regulation" - a draft regulation that,
once enacted, will control the definition and marketing of organic
products in Canada for the first time. Janine
Gibson, president of the Canadian Organic Growers, said, "The
organic regulation will help put Canadian agriculture on the path
Alan Stewart, president of the Atlantic
Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN) commented that it's
important to have a clear idea of what organic means, particularly in
Atlantic Canada, where "local and family-run farms are generally
supported by the community... thus it makes a lot of sense to look at
friendlier and more sustainable ways to farm."
Organic farmer David Cozac of
Big Sky Farm.
(photo: Matthew Holmes)
Consumers have long known that organics
mean a more sustainable and healthier way of growing food - for
consumers, for farmers and for the environment - but there's
historically been a lot of confusion about what "organic"
really means, and whether you can trust a label that states the
product is organic.
The new regulations are meant to change
all of that. The use of the word organic will be controlled and
defined. Once the regulation has been enacted (the government plans to
have everything in place by the New Year), Canadian organic products
will have to meet mandatory standards (which govern production methods
and control the use of certain substances) and will have to be
guaranteed by a certifying body. Products will also be able to carry
the optional "Biologique Canada Organic" label, which will
make it easier for Canadian consumers to feel confident in the organic
products they buy. The new regulation will also govern imports to
Canada and ensure that Canada's organic export markets recognize the
validity of our products. (The EU, Japan, and the US are all big
buyers of Canadian organics).
The "Biologique Canada
Imports and exports are one thing, but
as many of the readers of Elements have recently discussed on an
online forum, choosing local food is also an important part of a
sustainable food system, particularly when questions of food safety
come into the picture, as they recently have.
Recent food safety scares have
highlighted two things: that these scares are no longer uncommon, and
that organic food has been implicated in some of them. As Atlantic
Canadians, we have an opportunity to reflect on this situation as we
decide what food to eat or how to grow it. One thing is for certain:
the mass production and distribution of food, both organic and
non-organic, contribute to widespread food safety threats to large
numbers of people when contamination does occur.
ACORN, as the voice of organics in
Atlantic Canada, advocates local organic food systems by encouraging
the family farm model, by encouraging the production of a diversity of
products (as opposed to a monoculture approach) and by encouraging
consumers to demand that their super markets carry organic food that
has been grown in Atlantic Canada.
With this in mind, ACORN has made
available free to the public a searchable online directory so that you
can find the local organic food you want. It's a great tool for
everything from organic apples to organic zebra, fresh from the farm
(okay... maybe not zebras). You can search by province or key word and
the database provides you with the direct contact information for your
local organic farmer-growing great food right in your backyard. To try
it out, visit www.acornorganic.org
and click on "Organic Directory".