What Does Organic Mean?

The “Canada Organic • Biologique Canada” mark is a small symbol that carries a big message.  Organic Biologique

It verifies that the food bearing this logo is produced under rigorous organic standards regulated by the Government of Canada. It also represents good health, nutritious food and environmentally-beneficial practices. It’s a sign of goodness, and your best guarantee that a product is truly organic!

Organic means that a food or fibre product has been grown and made without the use of GMOs or nanotechnology, artificial preservatives and colours, synthetic chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, sewage sludge or irradiation. But it’s much more than that, it also about:

  • Improving soil health and promoting essential soil micro-biology
  • Rotating crops to balance nutrients in the soil, no mono-cropping
  • Using plough-down crops to add nitrogen & organic matter to the soil to suppress weeds and reduce drought and soil erosion
  • Promoting wildlife diversity
  • Keeping detailed records which provide the means for complete food traceability from field to plate
  • Humane treatment and handling of animals including outdoor access
  • Using beneficial insects or mechanical methods to control weeds & pests

Organic certification is validated annually by an on-site, independent third-party quality assurance system that audits a detailed paper trail listing farmers, processors, transporters and wholesalers that may have handled any part of the organic product. The processes and systems within each business are also verified to ensure they adhere to specific organic standards that are regulated by the government.

The system of organic certification began in the 1970’s as a response to consumer concerns that the organic products they were buying might not legitimately be organic. Since consumers no longer had a direct relationship with farmers as they did in earlier times, they couldn’t be sure of the organic purity of their food purchase. Organic certification was, and continues to be, a means to verify that products are produced according to a strictly defined and controlled set of internationally recognized regulations and protocols.

To be able to use the “Canada Organic • Biologique Canada” seal on a product, growers and makers must follow agricultural and production methods that minimize the disruption of the natural environment, encourage the health and vitality of the soil, promote humane animal management and preserve overall ecological integrity. In other words, organic means:

  • No synthetic pesticides
  • No synthetic preservatives or artificial colours
  • No chemical fertilizers or sewage sludge
  • No hormones or antibiotics
  • No GMOs (genetically modified organisms)
  • Humane treatment of animals
  • Preservation of ecological integrity
  • Complete traceability from the field to the plate

Canada Introduces National Standard For Organic Agriculture

In 1999 the Government of Canada unveiled a National Standard of Canada for Organic Agriculture – a step that further clarified just what “organic” means. There are six principles of this National Organic Standard:

  1. Protect the environment, minimize soil degradation and erosion, decrease pollution and optimize biological productivity.
  2. Replenish and maintain long-term soil fertility through crop rotation and composting while avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers.
  3. Maintain biological diversity for long-term sustainability using strategies for pest management that do not include synthetic pesticides.
  4. Recycle materials and resources to the greatest extent possible within the enterprise.
  5. Provide attentive care that promotes the health and behavioral needs of livestock.
  6. Maintain the integrity of organic food and processed products from initial handling to point of sale. Genetically engineered and/or modified organisms are prohibited.

At Highwood Crossing, we are serious about organic production and our certification proves it! Our farm, processing facilities and all the items we grow or make are organic under both the COR (Canadian Organic Regime) and the NOP (USDA National Organic Program) by Pro-Cert Organic.

In our operations, we either use organic seed grown on our own family farm or buy organic seed from other organic farmers who provide us with proof that their product is organic. We also conduct random DNA seed tests ensure on-going organic purity.

For any product claiming to be organic, always look for an organic “lot number” and the words “organic by…” with the name of the certifying agency. With this information, the organic status of any crop, product or ingredient can be verified. This will also provide a clear audit-trail so that any organic item can be traced all the way back to the farm-field where it was grown, where the seed was stored, including where and how it was handled, planted, harvested, transported and processed.

When we use seed grown on our farm, we assign it a lot number, have it cleaned at an approved seed cleaning plant, transport it in clean trucks and store it in clean, clearly labelled steel, pest-proof grain bins. Any grains or products that we buy from other organic producers are also handled in the same way. We keep detailed and meticulous records on all aspects of our production so that any crop or product can be traced back to the field where it was grown. All of our operations are regularly inspected and regulated by nationally and internationally recognized standards and food handling protocols. These strict rules promote long-term agricultural sustainability and are your guarantee that no chemicals, pesticides or genetically modified organisms have been used in the growing or making of our products.

“This small on-farm processing operation is the neatest and tidiest operation this inspector has reviewed in 2003. The cleanliness is outstanding. Equipment appears spotless as did the floor and other areas. All and all, this operation is a credit to the organic industry!”

Jack Reams, Organic Inspector

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Alberta Foothills of the Canadian Rockies
High River, Alberta