To buy or not to buy organic foods - Is it worth it and is there really a difference?

To buy or not to buy organic foods is a common debate for many. Is it worth it and is there really a difference?

Organic food refers to the output from Organic Agriculture: a holistic production method that contributes to the enhancement of biodiversity, good soil health and ecological balance. Organic agriculture PROHIBITS the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, sewage, sludge, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), irradiation, growth hormones, artificial flavors, colours and preservatives and is based on these 7 guiding principles, as stated in the Canadian Organic Standards:

1. PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT, minimize soil degradation and erosion, decrease pollution, optimize biological productivity and promote a sound state of health.
2. MAINTAIN LONG-TERM SOIL FERTILITY by optimizing conditions for biologic activity within the soil.

4. RECYCLE MATERIALS and resources to the greatest extent possible within the enterprise.

5. PROVIDE ATTENTIVE CARE that promotes the health and meets the behavioral needs of livestock.
6. PREPARE ORGANIC PRODUCTS emphasizing careful processing and handling methods in order to maintain organic integrity and vital qualities of the products at all stages of production.
7. RELY ON RENEWABLE RESOURCES in locally organized agricultural systems.

Organic food in Canada must meet all food regulations as well as additional organic standards and inspections. Canadian law requires all organic foods that cross interprovincial or international borders to be regulated under both the Food and Drug Regulations and the Organic Product Regulations, and are subject to enforcement by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Similarly, organic foods that are made and sold only within their province of origin are subject to federal truthful labeling laws and may also fall under additional provincial organic regulations. Having these rules in place to govern organic foods makes "organic" a trustworthy brand and allows consumers to shop with confidence.

There are a few key identifying factors that can help guide your purchasing decisions and ensure the foods you are buying are truly organic:

THE CANADIAN ORGANIC LOGO. Foods with an organic content of 95% or more are the only products allowed to be labeled as organic and be affixed with the logo. Products carrying the logo must be certified through a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) approved third party certification body and their name must appear on the product logo. Canada's closest trading partners are the USA and Europe, so you may also find these logos on grocery items which have been found to be equivalent to Canada's system of grading and certification.

Source - Canadian Health Food Association

Susan Arruda