I thought that resolving to eat local was the biggest change I would under go this year, but turns out I was wrong. This past Monday I started work at the Canadian Organic Growers (COG) as their Director of Outreach. So now for the next year not only will I be on a personal journey, but also a professional one.
The idea for this blog took root in the belief that people want to lead healthier lives, including making healthier food choices. The problen is that the information needed to make those choices is not as accessible as the fast food joint around the corner and in a society of convenience accessibility is everything. I resolved that I would put my knowledge of food and science to good use and make accessible the information needed to make those better choices. Getting this position with COG could not have come at a better time. I am now living and breathing healthy food advocacy. For those of you who don’t know, COG is Canada’s only not-for-profit organic organization that serves farmers, supporters and advocates of the organic movement. I now have at my fingertips the best in local and organic resources; the organic farmers, my allies; the supporters and the power to be an even stronger advocate. Now you might still be asking why the fuss over organic anyways. Isn’t local good enough? And what IS organic exactly?
Well, in Canada organic production is defined as: A holistic system designed to optimize the productivity and fitness of diverse communities within the agro-ecosystem, including soil organisms, plants, livestock and people. The principle goal of organic production is to develop enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment. 1 Basically, an organic agriculture practice is a closed system that works in perfect balance creating little to no waste. To add to this, when you eat local organic food it travels less of a distance to reach your table and it’s picked when it’s at its peak nutrient content.2
How’s that for an easy way to eat healthy and reduce your carbon footprint?
This brings me to my next adventure: Walking home from work this evening I was famished. For lunch I had organic carrots, kale and spinach. While they were delicious and bursting with sweet flavor I did not feel like having a repeat for dinner. I wanted to make stew, but I didn’t want to wait for it. I didn’t want to travel very far to find nourishment so I decided I would see what my local Loblaws had to offer me (at five blocks away it was my closest option). As I wandered through the produce aisles, smart phone in hand ready to calculate how far a potential item had traveled, I was confronted by foreign country after foreign country. China, Mexico, Mexico, U.S.A., Brazil… When I did find potatoes labeled “Product of Canada” it was nearly impossible to find exactly where in Canada they were coming from. After striking out once again in my last ditch attempt to find a local potato and a close encounter with an employee trying the solicit credit cards to unsuspecting shoppers (I scared her off with my geography questions) I admitted defeat in produce and decided to try my luck in the organic section.
I was pleased to find that the organic dairy section in Loblaws hosted lots of Ontario products. However, they were ALL from Guelph which Google maps told me is 528 km away and as such, 328 km out of my reach. Still not ready to give up and determined to find something from within my 200 km radius, I headed off to the regular dairy section. Now usually the amount of additives, hormones, and antibiotics used in dairy makes me leery of it, but I figured since I would be buying local it would probably be better than most. Finally success, St Alberts Cheese and Balderson Cheese. Both local cheese factories. I grabbed a small block of Balderson cheese made in Winchester, ON and walked triumphantly towards the check out. Cheese and turnip chips were on the menu tonight.
- General Principles and Management Standards (CAN/CGSB-32.310-2006)
- Is Local More Nutritious?