A lot of consumers think organic food is healthier for us because it doesn’t contain pesticides, it has more vitamins and minerals, and it promotes the development of a community. Unfortunately, consumers are misinformed because organic food CAN contain pesticides, it does NOT contain more vitamins and minerals, and in some circumstances it can actually be worse for the environment - all the wrong ingredients for developing a community. So, if organic is not the answer then what is? Sustainability!
Sustainable agriculture: Conserves or enhances Canada’s natural resources and the quality of the environment for future generations. This is what we want – our ultimate goal, and most conventional AND organic farmers try to use this method.
Conventional farmers: As mentioned above, these farmers use many of the sustainable agricultural practices, but also use chemical pesticides and genetically modified (GM) crops.
Organic farmers Use the same practices as conventional farmers, but do not use: synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, animal by-products or GM organisms, chemical preservatives, colouring agents, waxes or irradiation.
In a nutshell – consumers should be focusing on farmers who use sustainable agriculture. Easier said than done because some conventional farmers use sustainable agriculture, while others do not, and some organic farmers use sustainable agriculture, while others do not. We need to be conscious, active consumers!
For now I will leave you with a quote from a local farmer in Delta, BC. “Although we are not certified organic…we are always open to talk about how we grow our food, the values we want to uphold in doing so and why we have chosen not to certify our farm as organic. We believe: that working with nature and [its] natural processes [is] key to a truly sustainable agriculture system and that transparency between the consumer and farmer is necessary. We encourage our customers to come out to our farm and ask questions.”
Now I don’t know about you, but this is the type of farm I thought I was supporting when I used to buy organic produce. How wrong I turned out to be! Take a moment and ask yourself what you’re trying to support when you buy organic.
Here we have a local farmer that is upholding what I believe to be sustainable values for how to grow food; and yet they are choosing not to be organic. And on the other hand you have Dole trying to be organic by selling bananas that are individually wrapped in plastic – how does that make sense?
Next week, I’ll use fish as an example of how you can eat sustainably.