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Organic farming: a win-win solution

by Naturopathes de La Boite à Grains 05 Jun 2024
Agriculture Biologique : une Solution Gagnante pour tous - La Boite à Grains

Organic farming has long had a bad reputation. However, it has rapidly gained in popularity and rigor, following the modern shift in agricultural and food practices.  

As a result, the principles and benefits of organic farming are becoming better known and documented. It's becoming clear that organic farming has concerted benefits for our health and that of our ecosystems.

Organic farming: what does it involve?

In itself, organic farming is a practice that promotes environmental protection and proscribes the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It's a booming market.

In Canada, organic farming represents a $4.7 billion market. This includes 56% of Canadian consumers who regularly buy organic food. To meet this strong demand, over 4,000 Canadian producers are involved in organic farming. 1

These producers are redoubling their efforts to maintain industry standards. For a company to be certified, it must rigorously apply the industry's requirements.  

In fact, since 2009, a Canadian standard has framed the practice and established the guidelines for organic farming. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency enforces the consistency of this standard for certified producers.

Organic certification of producers is carried out by independent organizations such as Québec Vrai and Ecocert. In Quebec, these independent certification bodies are supervised by the Conseil des appellations réservées et des mentions valorisantes (CARTV).

The organic designation is the most regulated food certification system in Canada. It's a comprehensive system that provides maximum consumer safety. 2

| In a nutshell : The organic designation is highly controlled in Canada; the certified organic product really is.

Organic farming: Benefits for the consumer

Many consumers opt for organically grown foods out of concern for their health. Many buyers want to reduce their exposure to chemicals by consuming organic products.

The health benefits of organic farming have long been debated. Now, an epidemiological study published in October 2018 has taken stock of the issue by studying a group of 70,000 people over a 7-year period. Last autumn, the American medical journal JAMA published the results of this study concluding that eating organic would reduce the risk of contracting certain cancers, such as breast cancer and blood cancer. 3

This is due to the absence of many synthetic pesticides commonly used in conventional agriculture. These have been shown to be carcinogenic, hormone-disrupting and harmful to children's development. 2

By opting for organic produce, consumers also maximize the nutritional potential of their food, since it contains more polyphenols and healthy fats. 4, 5

|To sum up : Organic farming confers direct health benefits on the consumer by reducing exposure to chemicals and improving the nutritional potential of food.

Organic farming: Benefits for the earth and the ecosystem

Customers who consume organic products also do so out of concern for the environment.

Indeed, organic farming practices have a positive influence on the earth and ecosystems. Organic farming has a direct impact on :

  • Environmental protection;
  • Maintaining biodiversity;
  • Improving soil fertility and quality;
  • Water conservation;
  • Animal welfare 2

To meet industry standards, organic farmers must employ techniques that support soil, water and ecosystem health. Crop rotation, distribution of nutrients in the soil through composting and green manures, and natural pest control are rigorous industry standards. 1, 2

Rather than using chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides harmful to the health of insects and soils, organic farmers focus on prevention by selecting more disease-resistant plant varieties, practicing crop rotation and landscaping areas to encourage biodiversity.

Some have even developed natural remedies against insect infestations. Such is the case of Mariane Desjardins Roy, a farmer-herbalist who makes her own natural plant-based "pesticides" that she grows on her extensive land. "I wouldn't use [synthetic] pesticides out of respect for the earth, the insects and the micro-organisms that work in the soil. The soil is what nourishes our food and sustains us." Mariane Desjardins Roy, herbalist farmer, founding owner of herbalist La Fée des Bois and distributor of baskets of organic medicinal plants. According to Mariane and many other farmers, organic practices enable us to forge a close bond with the land and learn to work with nature's tools.

|To sum up: Organic farming promotes the health of the soil, waterways, biodiversity and insects. 

Whether it's to preserve soil, ensure the quality of waterways, save insect populations, prevent cancer or maximize the nutritional potential of your food, there's every reason to support organic farming practices.

Discover our organic baskets subscriptions

We wish you good health!

About the author

Naturopaths of La Boite à Grains

Team of licensed and certified naturopaths (ND) in Gatineau, Outaouais.

Original article written by Véronique Cousineau, Naturopath

 

Sources :

1: Dorais, M. Full professor in Plant Cultivation in Controlled Environments and Organic Horticulture at L'Université Laval's Centre de recherche et d'innovation sur les végétaux (CRIV). 2017, Colloque Maraicher bio.

2 : Think Bio Canada

3: JAMA Intern Med, NutriNet-Santé, Julia Baudry, PhD 1; Karen E. Assmann, PhD 1; Mathilde Touvier, PhD 1; et al, Association between frequency of organic food consumption and cancer risk, October 2018.

4: Barański, M., Średnicka-Tober, D., Volakakis, N., Seal, C., Sanderson, R., Stewart, G., . . . Leifert, C. (2014). Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: A systematic literature review and meta-analyses. British Journal of Nutrition, 112(5), 794-811.

5: Benbrook CM, Davis DR, Heins BJ, et al. Enhancing the fatty acid profile of milk through forage-based rations, with nutrition modeling of diet outcomes. Food Sci Nutr. 2018;6:681-700.

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