Though I would love to start talking (ranting) more about the circus known as the U.S. election, there is an amber in my shoe that has finally irritated me enough to publicly speak of it as the citizens of Prince George are being swindled.
There are those in the business circles of the world that no doubt take advantage of the use of terms that elicit feelings of environmental friendliness. Words such as natural, green, organic can make one who is seeking to make an environmentally friendly purchase feel as if they have made the right choice. The term for this type of advertising is called "greenwashing."
In British Columbia, the use of the word organic is yet to be assigned a true meaning until Bill 11, the Food and Agricultural Products Classification Act proposed by Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick to provide consumers in B.C. with confidence in their purchases is passed. This bill essentially protects consumers.
Per the BC government in regards to bill 11, "The regulatory changes would allow the B.C. government to build on a commitment that requires all food and beverage products marketed as "organic" in B.C. to be certified under either a provincial or national certification program by 2018, and consider the certification of products made with B.C. ingredients in the future."
The use of organic when used in interprovincial trade or trade between countries is strictly regulated. The Canadian Organic Products Regulations or (OPR) ensures that products labeled as "organic" or derivatives of the word meet the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) standards for humanely raised animals, soil building and environmentally sustainable produce production.
After seeing stores falsely advertising products as organic and charging customers the premium price demanded by organic farmers, I decided to discuss this with fellow farmers across B.C. and get their perspective.
One farmer from Courtenay said (to which I agree)," So Bill 11 was enacted to protect consumers for exactly this reason and I really look at it as a consumer protection bill rather than a bill that necessarily "helps" organic farmers. When stores mislabel produce or when non-organic farmers make the claim, it impacts public trust in a system that is highly dependent on a consumer understanding what the organic label means. Quite frankly, I don't think most farmers who aren't certified organic even have a clue of what goes into record keeping and ensuring what you say is what is actually sold. I think the general public thinks that the government inspects most farms and that's so far from the truth. When I claim that my produce is organic, it has been verified by an accredited inspector. The importance of that step can't be over-mentioned. We as organic farmers depend on that inspection so that the public knows we are telling the truth. For all other farmers who make claims, who is checking?"
The organic inspectors are third-party inspectors that have no ties with the certification bodies. Think of them as house appraisers for your bank's mortgage on your house. They also have to be inspected. So your inspector gets inspected to be able to inspect your farm. It is a rigorous process that ensures that consumers get the best environmentally friendly product possible.
I have sent correspondence to these stores but have not received any feedback this time around. This drives me bananas, as it is not only undermining the organic process but it is also fooling consumers.
I guess in the end until the bill gets enacted, know your farmer if you want to make the best choice possible.
That is the end of this rant for the day.
Stay tuned to more Trump circus from the belly of the beast next week where I'll be interviewing Trump supporters from small diners while shoveling massive amounts of grits and biscuits and gravy into my face.