Real Food Fridays: Organic Week

Canadians have been celebrating National Organic Week. Events across the country have shared the benefits of organic agriculture, its positive impacts on the environment and on our human health. The Globe and Mail recently wrote about a study by the Canadian Organic Trade Association that shows Canadian sales of organic food have risen 300% to $3.7 billion a year, making our country the fourth largest organic consumer market in the world. That’s pretty impressive. Keep reading for three easy actions you can take to join the growing number of Canadians who are eating organic. Here’s a break down from the Globe article about the most popular organic foods in Canada…

Although it’s a growing market, there are still considerable difficulties in accessibility to organic produce in some locations, availability in all seasons and a price difference that can really pinch us, the consumers. Luckily, with economies of scale and a growing customer base, organic food should continue to become more affordable for more families. In London, we could buy organic milk for only 10 or 20 pence more than conventional milk. In Toronto, we pay a few dollars more.

So, why pay extra for anything? What’s the big deal about organic food, anyway? Too many of the toxic and synthetic chemicals applied to our produce are dangerous for public health. There is established scientific evidence that links these chemicals to cancer, including higher rates of rare cancers among our hard-working farmers and their families, neurotoxicity and devastating impacts on our local environments – to our air, water, soil and many species of plants and animals. The chart below, from Canada Organic, outlines the key differences between uncertified food and certified organic food, and why it might matter more than many of us realize.

Here are three simple ideas to integrate organic food into your next grocery shop, without breaking the bank (hollar) or buying odd looking vegetables no one can pronounce.

1) Select one product you use every day, like coffee or eggs, and pick a sustainable brand. Most grocery stores sell a couple of organic coffee options now, so try to find one you really like (taste is king when it comes to coffee). Look for certifications such as “Fair Trade Certified” (good for people), “Rainforest Alliance Certified” (good for planet) and other legitimate labels. Renowned British scientist, Dr. Jane Goodall even sells her own roast of coffee that supports conservation of chimpanzees in countries including Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. You can buy it online through the Fresh Coffee Network and have it delivered right to your door if you want. Caffeination station.


2) Swap one conventionally grown fruit or vegetable for an organic variety. The list above is titled the Dirty Dozen, from the Environmental Working Group’s report called Pesticide in Produce. These twelve have some of the highest rates of pesticides. If you see a fruit or vegetable on the list that your family eats frequently, see if your local grocery store offers an organic alternative. Remember, the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure, and these guidelines are designed to help consumers make informed choices for their families. You can choose what works for you based on what produce has the most chemicals. By avoiding more contaminated varieties and selecting less contaminated, organic produce, you limit your pesticide intake.

3) Visit a local farmers market and get to know the amazing people who produce our food. You can cut out the middle man (the grocery store) and will often find better deals on the foods you love, and get the freshest possible produce to take home. That’s a win, win. All across our country, in fields and barns, vineyards and orchards, Canadian farmers are bringing us food from their farms to our forks. Let’s show our support for all of their hard work and encourage them to carry on their agricultural businesses. Buy local, fresh and organic produce, for our health, their health and the health of our communities – Angela


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About the Author

Angela is founder and editor of Sasstainable, an insider voice on sustainable lifestyle and ethical luxury. In 2013, she completed her MSc in Environmental Management at the University of London, at the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy. Her passion for the environment grew out of her family's rural property in Raglan, Ontario, now a designated Natural Heritage System area in the Ontario Greenbelt. In 2009, she was granted Ryerson University's Top 30 Under 30 Alumni award, because of her work as a motivational speaker. She inspired over 30,000 high school and university students across North America. She is a published writer, contributing articles to Geez Magazine, Eluxe Magazine and Feelgood Style, among others. She enjoys fashion, cooking, art and yoga. She served on the board of directors for Toronto Zooshare Biogas Co-operative and Toronto Green Community. She currently lives in Toronto, Canada, with her 3 year-old daughter, Charlotte.