A few years ago I did not know anything about organic products or produce, except for these lonely green bananas at a local supermarket. They were located close to the other bananas just 20 cent more expensive than the regular ones.
My road to organic led through a borderline burnout, an adrenal fatigue, and hormonal problems.
When I tell people that I only buy organic produce or product, and as of last year started growing my own organic veggies, I am being often asked what is “organic”, what does “organic produce” mean, stand for? Does it taste better?
Yes it does, but organic is not just about better taste.
Let start at the very beginning, where everything starts and it starts with agriculture, with farmer and farming.
The Government of Canada define organic agriculture in the following way:
“Organic production is a holistic system designed to optimize the productivity and fitness of diverse communities within the agro-ecosystem, including soil organisms, plants, livestock and people. The principal goal of organic production is to develop operations that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment.”
Organic agriculture is a holistic method of farming based on ecological principles with the primary goal of creating a sustainable agricultural system. Organic agriculture takes into consideration harmonious co-existence of soil organisms, plants, animals and people.
There are 4 general principles of organic agricultural productions:
- Principle of Health
- Principle of Ecology
- Principle of Fairness
- Principle of Care
Principle of Health – Organic agriculture objective is to sustain and improve the health of soil, plants, animals, humans and the planet as one and inseparable. Organic farming means farming in a way that feeds the biological life in the soil and enriches the soil so it does a better job of releasing nutrients to the crops. The more nutrients in the crops the more are provided to the humans that eat them.
Therefore it is prohibited to use of all products of and materials from genetic engineering (GE), all products, materials or processes intentionally using nanotechnology, irradiation, synthetic crop production aids and materials, synthetic growth regulators, round up, antibiotics and parasiticides, synthetic substances used in organic product preparation, such as ingredients, food additives and processing aids, including sulphates, nitrates and nitrites.
In other words, choosing organic allows consumers to avoid Genetically Modified Organisms, hormones, pesticide residue and antibiotics.
Principle of ecology – Organic agriculture goal is based on working with ecological systems and cycles, and to help sustain them. Therefore, organic growers embrace the use of natural systems. They do it through composting, crop rotation, cover crops, mulching and attracting beneficial insects in the gardens/fields/farm.
Organic agriculture follows this old practice abandoned in genetically modified farming such as crop rotation and companion planting which are important in growing healthy plants.
Principle of fairness – Organic agriculture must be built on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities. Organic agriculture is about community, family, and collaboration; it is about transparency, diversity and respect, ecology and resilience, food sovereignty/ freedom and sustainability.
Sovereignty/Freedom- The organic movement is a reaction to industrialized farming practices, where more and more farmers buy genetically engineered seeds, roundup-ready, they are not allowed to gather the seeds, and thus they must buy new seeds every growing season. There are just 2-3 companies in the world that sell those seeds. Using certified organic seeds in the farming practice is just a first step to get our independency from these companies.
Also GMO production and conventional farming are heavily subsidized from our taxes so we do not see the real price we pay for the products at the store.
You may think organic is more expensive? I see it the other way around.
Principle of care – Organic agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.When farmers work with nature by respecting the soil habitat, the benefits go far beyond beautiful, healthy food. They also include healthy landscapes, water, and air.
As you can see organic agriculture is about much more than growing tasty food without synthetic fertilizers and chemical biocides. Organic agriculture uses practices that benefit the planet as well as us humans today and the generations to come.
When you think about organic agriculture and what it stands for, I want you to remember the ancient native proverb:
“We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children”