We’re less than one month from election day in Canada, and it’s hard not to see even the smallest part of everyday life through a political lens.
The general election is a chance to reaffirm where we stand on issues of justice, health, the economy and the environment. But why wait every four years? The daily choices we make about the food we eat are some of our most profoundly political decisions.
Not all food has the same impact on the world. You have to ask: Where does this food come from? How was it made? What effect did it have on my community and the ecosystem?
Does it fight erosion, and the pollution of our soil and water ways? Does it support pollinators, biodiversity and the availability of seeds to farmers and future generations? Do you know the country, the region or, better yet, the farm, where it was grown? How does that farm treat its workers and are its animals raised humanely? What’s in your food: Was it grown with known carcinogens or synthetic fossil-fuel fertilizers? Does it contain artificial flavours, colours, preservatives or GMOs?
There are many confusing claims on food today that only tell part of the story. But organic is backed by federal regulation, overseen by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Organic meets all food health and safety laws and is also inspected to national organic standards, making it the most regulated food in Canada.
When it comes to the real meaning behind the claim, organic is the gold standard for eco-conscious consumers.
It is time for Canada to re-imagine agriculture as something more than just a major trade sector that results in edible commodities. We need our policy-makers to think of food and farming as something that brings together agriculture, community, health and the environment.
Consumers are already there: studies show that over 20 million Canadians – in fact a strong, stable majority – already choose organic products every week. And, as happens in politics, the parties are starting to follow them.
The Greens and NDP both have clear language in their official policies and party platforms this election that pledge to increase organic farming and support Canada’s non-organic farmers who want to transition to organic. The Liberal Party has passed resolutions to restrict the use of neonicotinoids (or “neonics”), pervasive toxic pesticides linked to massive declines in our bee and pollinator populations. And the Conservative Party, during its time in government, has overseen the first full regulation to guarantee organic claims are backed by law and the inspection system is overseen by government agencies.
Meanwhile, all parties (except for the Conservatives) have made past calls for mandatory GMO labelling or a more balanced process that weighs the financial, trade and possible health consequences before approving new GMOs in Canada.
Organic means safe, natural practices that protect and nourish our environment and ourselves. Organic food is great tasting, nutritious and certified to meet national standards. It reduces our exposure to pesticides and GMOs. Animals are raised without the routine use of drugs, antibiotics or synthetic hormones. It’s healthy for soil, plants and animals, and reduces our carbon footprint.
Whatever your politics, on voting day, consider voting for the “O” party—look for the “Canada Organic” logo to vote organic. Think before you eat. Think Canada Organic!