Organic Canada

What Does it Mean to Be Organic in Canada?

In December 2008, the standards of products that can be labelled organic are being revised. The interesting part of this is that the standards address how livestock are housed (remember, organic does not mean free-range). These are outlined in the "Organic Production Systems — General Principles and Management Standards" document listed below. These standards, once voluntary, will soon be law.

"A certification body shall certify an agricultural product as an organic product if it determines, after evaluation, that

(a) in the case of a multi-ingredient product, at least 70% of its contents are organic products;

(b) the substances used in the production of the agricultural product are those set out in, and used in the manner described in, the most recent edition of CAN/CGSB 32.311, entitled Organic Production Systems — Permitted Substances List; and

(c) the methods of production used and the control mechanisms in place comply with the requirements set out in the most recent edition of CAN/CGSB 32.310, entitled Organic Production Systems — General Principles and Management Standards, and with the general principles respecting organic production set out in those standards."

The standards apply to Canadian products AND products being imported into Canada from foreign countries.

A Regulatory Regime in Transition - Private to Public

As I write this, there are 13 private organizations that regulate what is organic in each province. By 2009, there will be one national standard, and one national regulator.

"With the growth of the organic sector, a federal government regulation became necessary, in order to protect Canadian consumers and support further growth of the industry. This makes organic certification a legal requirement, as of December 2008, for people wanting to sell products labelled as organic.
The new regulatory regime also addresses confusion about organic labels.

By December 2008, you can start looking for the 'Biologique Canada Organic' and be assured the product is certified to Canadian Organic Production Standards." (Taken from the Canadian Organic Growers website)

I think it's very important that we have a national standard that doesn't allow for interpretation. Though it was nice to have 'voluntary standards', that doesn't mean everybody was producing their organic products in the manner we would imagine/to the regulations we might assume are being enforced.

Where to Buy Organics in Canada

The Canadian Organic Growers website has a list of databases that offer directories for places across Canada that sell organic food. Check it out!