Growing Organically: Canadian Agriculture
Organic agriculture typically refers to the production of fruits, vegetables, grains, and other food products that are grown without the use of antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, or other items that can prevent the spread of disease and promote growth. While organic agriculture has recently grown in popularity in the United States and some parts of Europe, it has not been similarly embraced by the citizens of Canada. In fact, despite significant amounts of government support for organic agriculture in Canada in the 1980s, there have only been modest increases in the number of Canadian organic farmers over the past few decades. According to some research, there are approximately 1500-2000 farmers who participate in organic agriculture techniques in the entire country—who produce only around 1% of the total amount of food for retail markets. Individuals who are interested in learning more about organic agriculture and organic farming should first understand the history of organic farming in Canada, its sustainability, negative consequences of traditional forms of farming, and typical organic produce prices.
History of Organic Farming in Canada
There is no question that farming has been done many thousands of years. In Canada, however, organic farming is a relatively new phenomenon, and developed only in the last 60 years. While the first organic farms were created in Canada in the 1950s, they grew substantially in number in the 1960s and 1970s. Several certifications were developed in the 1980s which ensured farms that referred to their produce as “organic” were following specific growing procedures. In addition, a number of courses that emphasized organic agriculture measures were introduced at Canadian colleges and universities.
Organic Farming and Sustainability
Lately, we hear more about the environment, and how the ways in which we act and live our lives can play a part in its survival. This is true more so than ever when it comes to agricultural practices, which can have serious impacts on the health of farmland. Organic farmers can contribute to the sustainability of farmland by participating in crop rotation, and relying on mechanical cultivation. Growing crops that are native to a specific region—and therefore do not require excessive amounts of growth stimulants—or raising cattle, pigs, or other farm animals without the use of antibiotics, also ensures organic sustainability.
Negative Consequences of Conventional Agriculture
As the number of people living in the world continues to increase, so does the demand for healthy and nutritious food. Unfortunately, these increased demands on farms often mean that the lands on which crops are grown or animals are raised suffer quite dramatically. Some of the most common negative consequences associated with conventional agriculture include soil and water degradation. In addition, serious health consequences as the result of the consumption of foods grown or raised in the conventional manner continue to increase among Canadian residents.
The Market Place for Organically Grown Foods
The market place for organically grown foods refers to the ways in which naturally raised products will be sold, and who will purchase the items. According to a study, 87% of individuals who were questioned about their preferences reported concerns about the inclusion of chemical pesticides in their foods. In addition, 25% of these individuals indicated that they would be willing to make an effort to go out and purchase foods which did not contain the aforementioned pesticides. Finally, surveyed individuals reported that they would be willing to pay increased rates for foods that were believed to have been grown in an organic manner.