Defining Organic: 


The term organic describes the methods that are used to grow, process, and handle agricultural products. Organic farming practices focus on building healthy soil, enhancing biodiversity, and preventing disease and pest problems using sustainable, holistic techniques. Organically grown crops are produced without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or sewage sludge, and do not include genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Animals raised organically are allowed access to the outdoors, are fed organically grown feed, and are not given antibiotics, synthetic parasiticides, or synthetic hormones. Organic food is minimally processed, with minimal artificial ingredients and no synthetic preservatives. It is not irradiated, and processing equipment, packaging materials and storage containers do not contain synthetic fungicides, preservatives, or fumigants.

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hand Certified Organic:


Certified organic products are certified by independent third party certifying bodies that are all regulated by governments or accreditation. The certification process includes farm, livestock or processing facility inspections, a written organic farm management plan and detailed record-keeping. Packaged products that are labelled “Certified Organic” must contain at least 95% certified organic ingredients. Producers, processors, and handlers of certified organic agricultural products must adhere to the Canadian Organic Standard as a minimum and any additional standard of their certifying body and apply for inspection every year.


In a global marketplace where producers, processors, distributors, and consumers don’t have the opportunity to communicate directly, organic certification helps to maintain the integrity of organic production and handling. For the consumer, certification ensures that minimum organic standards have been met at each stage of the supply chain. For producers, certification provides access to a rapidly growing market and ensures a premium price for their products.


Organic certification in Canada is regulated by the federal Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) Canada Organic Office.



Non-certified Organic: 


Some organic producers choose not to certify their products, opting instead to communicate directly with their customers about their crop or livestock production methods and their farm’s management techniques. Organic certification is a costly process and for some producers it is simply not feasible. For others, particularly those who sell to a smaller local market and have a direct, more personal relationship with their customers, certification may not be deemed necessary by either the producer or the consumer. Non-certified organic products grown to organic standards are no less “organic” than certified organic products, but it is up to the producer to build customers’ trust and confidence, and up to the consumer to ensure that the organic products meet their personal standards. As of December 2008, under the CFIA's Organic Products Regulation and Manitoba's proposed Organic Agricultural Products Act, products that are grown to organic standards but not certified organic may no longer be marketed as 'organic'.


Other definitions:


Biodynamic (Demeter Certified):


Biodynamic farming is another ecological alternative to chemical farming. It incorporates organic farming principles and practices such as growing cover crops and green manures, building the health of the soil through composting, and incorporating crop rotations, companion planting, and the use of liquid manures. Biodynamic builds on these techniques with metaphysical farming practices that acknowledge the influence of cosmic and non-physical forces. Biodynamic certification through Demeter International incorporates International Demeter Production and Processing Standards as well as the local region’s organic standards and regulations. Principles of Demeter certification include building soil fertility, dignified animal husbandry, and processing techniques that enhance food quality. Demeter also supports local food production systems and community building.


GMO-Free (GE-Free), Antibiotic-free, Hormone-free, Natural:


These designations are self-explanatory, but there are no standards or regulatory channels in place to ensure that products really are GMO, antibiotic, or hormone-free. The onus is on the producer to be transparent, and on the consumer to ask the right questions.


Fair Trade:


Fair trade products are often commodities grown in southern climates, for example coffee, chocolate, bananas, and cotton. Growers Direct of Regina is newly fair trade certified for prairie grains and pulses. While fair trade products certified by the Fair Trade Labelling Organization (FLO) are not required to be organically grown, there is an emphasis on ecological farming and there are many certified organic fair trade products available. For fair trade certification, producers are encouraged to reduce their use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and other off-farm inputs, and farmers are required to show environmental improvement each year. Other standards of the Fair Trade label ensure producers get a fair price for their products and farm workers are unionized and their rights are respected.