Last week we took a look at some of the reasons I think eating organically is healthier and worth the investment. If you missed it, click here to get all caught up.
This week, I want to help you become a savvy shopper and not get all tangled up in tricky advertising and hype. There are some really great reasons to purchase organic food but like you, I work hard for my money and want to be sure that the products I purchase are really what I think they are.
Here we go!
If you see this logo on a food item, whether fresh produce or something packaged, you can rest assured that the contents have been grown and processed in accordance with internationally recognized Canadian Organic Standards. These standards include the following: how crops and produce are to be grown, harvested and stored, how pests and diseases are to be taken care of, environmental impact of farming, as well as how livestock are treated, housed, fed, transported and slaughtered.
If a food item has been labelled at organic, it does not contain any ingredients that have been genetically modified or considered GMO’s.
The farmer has not applied any synthetic chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Anything applied to the crops must be botanically sourced or naturally occurring organisms. That being said, while tests are completed to confirm before the farmer’s practices before they receive permission to use the organic label, it is impossible to account for any residual spray or run off from neighbouring farms that are using non-organic practices.
What about other items travelling from other countries? Typically, the country of origin must comply with the country’s organic standards that it is travelling too. American organic standards are very similar to ours so something labelled as organic in the U.S. is also considered organic here. This is the logo that is used by our neighbours to the south.
What about irradiation? Irradiation is a practice that applies radiation to a crop before travel. The idea is to kill off any pests or fungus so that a the produce arrives in the same state that it leaves the point of origin. According to the Canadian Organic Growers, “Irradiation is not permitted on food products or their inputs under the standards as stated in CAN/CGSB-32.310-2006, Section 1.4.1.h./2006/-338) Any product that is certified organic under the Organic Products Regulations will not have been exposed to ionizing radiation or forms of irradiation, except as outlined in CAN/CGSB-32.311-2006, Table 4.2, which states that ionizing radiation may be used on peat moss carrier before the addition of microbial inoculants.” Source: Canadian Organic Growers
You can purchase all kinds of items as organic. The first thing that comes to mind is of course food but organic health and hygiene products are beginning to take up some significant space on store shelves. To me, this just makes sense. With our skin being our largest organ and our protection from the elements, shouldn’t we make sure we are nourishing our skin with natural elements instead of chemical elixirs?
- Only products with at least 95 per cent organic content may be labelled as “organic” or bear the “organic” logo. These products must be certified and the name of the certification body must appear on the label.
- Multi-ingredient products with 70-95 per cent organic content may have the declaration: “contains xx% organic ingredients.” These products may not use the organic logo and/or the claim to be “organic.” These products must be certified and the name of the certification body must appear on the label.
- Multi-ingredient products with less than 70 per cent “organic” content may only contain organic claims in the product’s ingredient list. These products do not require certification and may not use the “organic” logo. However, the organic ingredients contained within these products must be certified.
Does buying organic always mean you are eating healthier? The short and simple answer is no. You still need to read labels and know what exactly you are buying. The bag of chips or cookies will always be a bag of chips or cookies, whether it is labelled organic or not.
Purchasing organic produce and animal products is a good idea when possible. Does it need to have a special logo in order to be grown organically? Absolutely not. This is where it pays to buy food locally when you can and get to know your farmer. Many farmers grow their crops in a natural manner but just can’t afford to complete the organic certification process.
Do I need to buy all my produce organically? You really don’t. There are some crops that just aren’t worth the extra cost. The Environmental Working Group releases a list every year of the ‘Clean Fifteen & the Dirty Dozen.’ These kind folks break it down for us and tell us which crops are generally okay to purchase conventionally grown and which ones we really should aim to purchase organic. See the list of the Dirty Dozen. See the list of the Clean Fifteen.
During the warmer months here in Canada, it is fairly easy to shop local and find naturally grown crops. Not so much when it is cold outside and we are bundled up from head to toe. My favourite way to shop organically during this time is through Organics Live. This company offers stellar service right to your front door! You can customize the size of box appropriate for your household, decide how often you want it delivered and even what goes into your box. They go to great lengths to ensure that they are locally focused whenever possible, carbon neutral and cost effective. Take a peek and see if they are a good fit for you!
Shop smart friends!