Wednesday, 30 January 2013

What's the Difference Between Natural and Organic?

"All natural"


"made from sustainable resources"

"locally produced"

Have you ever wondered exactly what these catch phrases mean?  Unfortunately sometimes these are just that, catch phrases and marketing tools to confuse health conscious consumers with pure intentions.

You can read my post about green washing techniques here.

The Canada Organic logo was designed to help clear up some of this confusion.  When you see the logo below you can be sure that the product is certified organic using Canadian standards.  That means no artificial pesticides or fertilizers and no genetic modifications.

Here's a quick summary from a recent article in the Globe and Mail:

If you are still in doubt use this handy organic check list made by the Canadian Organic Trade Association.

I know, I know, now you're probably thinking "hey what about my favourite booth at the local farmer's market?  There's no logo on their apples, should I abandon them and go to Wal-Mart instead?"  (Yes, there are certified organic products in Wal-Mart and many other chain stores).

Generally I would recommend, no logo, no buying (referring to the Canada Organic logo of course).  However there are some exceptions.  If you can talk directly to the producers and can be assured of how their products are grown and prepared, then certification may seem unnecessary.  In fact there are lots of smaller farms that are growing organic food that could meet certification standards, but they cannot afford to officially certify. 

The Canada Organic logo is a result of the increasing distance between consumers and the producers of their food.  When I'm in the grocery store buying an apple I only have the tiny produce sticker to tell me where this apple has come from.  I have no information regarding it's treatment, growth or conditions of transportation to the store.  Basically I am uninformed.  The Canada Organic logo, on the other hand, provides a wealth of information about the food it is found on, allowing consumers to make informed choices on the food they purchase and eat. 

So keep on hunting for that little red, green and white logo ...

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