The organic principles
By purchasing local, fair and organic products you are helping to send important messages that trickle through the marketplace.
Buying organic supports farmers who care deeply about the non-human world. Organic standards go way beyond things like not spraying pesticides. Organic standards require that farmers be accountable to their peers and to their buyers through third party certification systems. Around the world organic standards are based on a set of foundational priciples.
We believe that our production practices should sustain the health of the soil. The health of the soil is a foundation of all other healths. We cannot have diverse healthy ecosystes, and we cannot be healthy people if we do not build healthy soil. Everything starts here. This principle is about the integrity, wholeness and connectedness of all living things. Think holistically when you make food purchases! Ask farmers about how they care for soil when you buy their products! The principle of health is what sets organic farmers apart from other farmers that sell locally but are not certified organic. Part of the organic certification process is detailing and demonstrating to a third party how your practices are building soil health.
This is why organic farmers around the world are celebrating right now – 2015 has been declared the Year of Soils to raise awareness about this foundational principle.
We believe in producing food following the cycles and ecological balances of nature. This means that organic farmers work to mimic natural cycles when they grow crops, harvest from the wild, or raise animals . For example, on our farm we plant insectories to attract beneficial insects, we time our planting to avoid natural disease and pest cycles. We match the crops we grow to specific microclimates on our farm. We harvest from the wild only in sustainable ways. We save seeds and grow hertiage varieties to maintain and enrich genetic diversity. When you buy organic products you are supporting farmers who are following this principle. Be sure to ask the farmers and suppliers you buy from if they are using pesticides or treated seeds (such as neonicotinouds) that are destroying the ecosystems around us. And – be sure to ask if GMO seed was used to grow the plants that became the feed or the ingredients in what you are buying.
We believe in equity, respect and justice. Following this principle, organic farmers pledge to conduct themselves in ways that are fair and respectful of other farmers, workers, processors, retailers, consumers — everyone along the food chain. Adapting this principle, organic farmers pledge to work toward a food system that sustains a good quality of life for everyone, not just an elite few. In this way, organic farmers see themselves as part of a movement for food sovereignty. Following this principle, has led organic farmers to develop ‘alternative’ economic practices that are based in solidarity. As a consumer you can support this principle by looking for products produced, processed, distributed or sold by cooperatives, or products that are traded and exchanged in ‘other than capitalist’ ways, like CSAs for example.
We believe we are here for the longterm, so we follow a precautionary and responsible approach to the way we grow, harvest, process and exchange our products. We weigh all of our decisions using the ‘test of time’ by asking, “How likely is it that this action will harm?”. Organic farmers understand that science and knowledge are always expanding. We all can give examples of processes that our governements and scientists approve as ‘safe’ , but then later turn out to be harmful. DDT comes to mind, but a current example in Ontario is the use of neonicotinoids. Clearly, in approving these substances as seed and plant treatments, our governments were NOT following the precautionary principle of care. This is why organic farmers refuse to use a myriad of sythetic feriliizers and pesticides that are government approved. We are worried about the long term impacts. This principle sets organic farmers apart from other farmers who also sell in local markets. “Local” does not mean “organic”, and more and more research is showing this difference. Often local vendors at farmers markets for example, are using all the same synthetic fertilizers and pesticides as large scaled producers who sell into wholesale chains. A great way to check out this principle of long term care for the environment is to ask a vendor – Do you use synthetic fertilizer? Its a simple question that usually separates the wheat from the chaff (so to speak).