1What is organic?
Organic encourages practices that increase biodiversity and reduce negative environmental impacts, while also supporting animal health and welfare.
If it is a seed, animal feed, or human food in Canada, it must meet the regulated legal standards of the Canada Organic Regime (COR).
The Canadian Organic Standards prohibit:
✔️ hydroponics
✔️ synthetic fertilizers and toxic, synthetic pesticides;
✔️ genetic engineering (GMOs) in seed, feed, and ingredients;
✔️ artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives;
✔️ growth hormones, routine use of antibiotics, and animal cloning;
✔️ irradiation;
✔️ sewage sludge; and more.
The organic standards apply to the preparing, handling, packaging and transportation of organic products. This includes rules regarding: ingredients; processing aids; cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing; substances for pest control; segregation from non-organic products during handling, transportation and storage.
2What assurance does the organic label provide?
The organic label is the only one whose use is controlled and verifiable through the organic certification process. Canada's Organic logo is your assurance that the product bearing it has met the Canadian government’s standards for organic products - the Canadian Organic Standards. The logo can be used on products that are 95-100% organic. Those with fewer than 70% may only identify organic ingredients in the ingredient list, but not make an organic claim on the rest of the packaging.
3If a product is organic is it certified?
Yes. Organic certification is a stringent process that requires producers and processors to adhere to a strict set of standards that go above and beyond all of the applicable food safety laws. These include:
✔️ use of land that has been free of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers for at least 3 years.
✔️ detailed record-keeping and regular audits, which means full food traceability - everything that goes into an organic product has to be documented and traceable.
✔️ routine on-site inspections.
4Do organic products have GMO’s?
No. All organic products are non-GMO! Genetically engineered products (GMOs) are prohibited in organic production. This means an organic farmer can't plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can't eat GMO alfalfa or corn and an organic manufacturer can't use any GMO ingredients. Organic farmers and processors must show that they aren't using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances.
5Why is choosing organic better for the planet?
With organic production, the adjacent natural systems such as hedgerows, forests, rivers and ponds are more robust with a healthy variety of species. Local, healthy systems translate into healthy global eco-systems.
Organic production is a system that replenishes the soil without the use of fossil-fuel based synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and genetic engineering (GMOs).
Organic prohibits certain methods and substances such as hydroponics, irradiation, sewage sludge, growth hormones and the routine use of antibiotics that contributes to healthy waterways. Organic focuses on soil health through cover cropping, crop rotations, composted manure, conservation tillage, biological pest controls such as beneficial insects which helps natural pollination.
6Is organic better for your health?
Eating organically means you can help to avoid synthetic pesticide residues on your fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Plus, you are getting extra nutrients.
Organic fruits and vegetables have been shown to have greater micro-nutrients due to the growing context which creates antioxidants, polyphenols, and flavonoids which strengthens the immune systems of humans that eat these plants.
7What is unique about an organic farm?
Organic farming is a system that replenishes and maintains soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Organic farmers cultivate their soil’s fertility, produce healthy food, and support animal welfare by:
✔️ rotating crops to prevent pests and balance and distribute nutrients in the soil;
✔️ composting and using green manures to add nitrogen and organic matter to the soil, keep weeds down and prevent drought and soil erosion;
✔️ using beneficial insects or manual labour to control pests;
✔️ ensuring all livestock have access to pasture, when weather permits;
✔️ including minimum space requirements for all livestock
✔️ and much more.
8Is regenerative agriculture the same as organic agriculture?
Organic agriculture is a regulated, standards-based system. Regenerative agriculture is not a regulated term. Regenerative agriculture is a concept that has recently gained popularity. There is no universal definition.
Many groups use the term regenerative agriculture to describe a type of agriculture that promotes carbon sequestration in the soil, thus removing it from the atmosphere where it contributes to climate change. Organic agriculture aims to be the most regenerative form of agriculture possible and by practicing organic agriculture with an emphasis on regenerative practices.
9How do I learn more about organic?
Get curious! Ask your local organic business.
And Visit COTA’s Organic 101