YUF CSA’s first edition of our newsletter ‘Around the Watering Can’ is out! Sign up now on our website to receive our newsletter emailed directly to your inbox! Please find below a short excerpt from our newsletter:
What’s Sprouting in the Garden This Week?
It’s been one of the hottest, driest springs on record, which has been great for planting and growing, but dismal for keeping those seeds moist enough for germination. Yet, germinate they have. Our pea and spring onions, planted the week of the April 12th, have finally made an appearance. We’ve been out every day planting head lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, carrots, radishes, beets & swiss chard, and there is much more to come! Tune in each week to find out what’s gone in and what’s popped up!
Demystifying Food Labels
By Mallory Hilkewich
Oh dear organics.
You’ve heard the hype, but what to trust? Certified organic food is free of herbicides, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, bioengineering, and any of those long-winded words found on most packaged foods that are the infamous artificial ingredients. There is a difference between what is certified organic and other growers who grow with organic methods, free of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, growth hormones, and the like. The Organic Products Regulations body of Canada does not allow the use of most pesticides, though there is a list of those permitted, such as some botanical pesticides. Canadian growers follow Canadian Organic Standards, which came into effect July 2009, as legal organic growing requirements and can voluntarily use the Canada Organic Logo (pictured here). Products must be certified organic according to the national standard by an accredited certifying body.
This means the process to become certified organic is not only lengthy but costs the producers money. The Canada Organic Regime regulates organic agricultural products in labeling practices, understanding and definitions, and development in the domestic market. There are many organic labels aside from Canadian Organics, such as USDA Organic, Eco Cert, Certified Organic, and Demeter, amongst many others. Your farmers market is still probably full of many organic growers who either are to small to afford becoming certified or are in the process as you eat. To ensure crops are not genetically modified farmers have to take precautions; such as late planting. But beware! Canola pollen can be carried so far that few spaces in Canada can safely grow organic canola.
What’s crackin’ in the animal kingdom?
Animal welfare is also important under organic standards. Organic regulation ensures the use of natural breeding methods, minimizing stress and disease prevention, as well as not allowing antibiotics, growth regulators, or hormones. But then what are the differences between cage free, pasture raised, free range, and now those fancy omega-3 eggs? There are no hen raising regulations apart from ensuring no “factory farming” methods are used under any of the aforementioned labels.
This means that all alternative practices are voluntary. “Cage free” simply means the hens are kept out of cages. Pasture-raised hens are understood to be raised outdoors, in moving enclosures on grass, and eating the natural and organic diet of a chicken. These eggs are known to be full of taste and good vitamins (A & E) and fat (Omega-3) from the hens’ diets. If the carton says Omega-3 then the hens probably eat a natural or high in flax seed diet. Sorry to the fish in the sea because no organic aquaculture has been certified. It is still important to find out what fish are over-fished or farm-raised to make an informed decision about the seafood you choose to eat.
Go local and you are already home!
There is bounty in choice. Even if a food is organic, that does not mean it has not traveled by barge across the ocean and by a semi-truck along highways to reach your retailers door. The Canada Organics label can also be applied to imported foods. If you want to be more of a locavore begin your treasure hunt for all the greatness that is rooted in this province and particularly this city.
There are many ways to get all the foods your taste buds desire both grown and processed close to home. Organizations (ahem, Young Urban Farmers CSA), farmers markets, and many grocery stores are carrying a growing abundance of locally supplied foods. Toronto is also supplied with food activists that are helping to route out your treasure map by gathering and compiling this information. Check out the Toronto Environmental Alliance for cool information guides to locally grown and supplied Caribbean, South Asian, African, and Middle Eastern food, plus much more.