Posts Tagged ‘organic’

The Good News

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Canadian Organic Growers is a wonderful resource for both serious growers and home gardeners as well as anyone interested in what is happening in the global world of agriculture.  The organization publishes a quarterly magazine, has local chapters all across Canada, hosts conferences and events such as Seedy Saturdays, has a lending library that is free to members, and also publishes a monthly e-newsletter.  I like the e-newsletter because if often gives one a quick but informative overview of what is happening with food and farming around the world.  For this blog, I thought I would summarize the good news.

  • The Canadian Wheat Board announces $200,000 in funding for organic sector development
  • Canada has said that any products derived from cloned foods can not be called organic under our new standards and logo (to me the overall news is awful)
  • A U.S. survey in 2008 reports that organic food sales are up 10%
  • Dannon is eliminating the rBST growth hormone from its dairy operations.  General Mills has done the same thing.
  • The Philippine army is launching an organic agricultural project to help less privileged residents in their area.
  • A 2008 report from the United Nations says that “organic agriculture is particularly well suited for smallholder farmers, who comprise the majority of Africa’s poor”.  Good news
  • A United Nations 2008 assessment of world hunger has concluded that ‘Genetically modified crops have very little potential to alleviate poverty and hunger’.  This is in direct contrast to claims coming from GM companies, but supports the continued development of organic food production.
  • Britons continue to support organic and ethical foods despite the downturn in the economy
  • 250 pesticides will be removed form store shelves in Ontario by the end of this month under the new Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act.  Quebec is the only other province to have a similar ban, with P.E.I. and New Brunswick considering one.
  • The amount of land globally in certified organic production grew from 30.7 million hectares to 32.2 million hectares in 2007, with strong growth in Latin America and Africa.

Not to put a damper on life, but this seems important.

According to the Environmental Health News (01/06/09) antibiotics are showing up in vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and lettuce.  These vegetables are absorbing the antibiotics when grown in soil fertilised with livestock manure in which the animals have been fed antibiotics.  Approximately 70% of all antibiotics and related drugs produced in the United States are fed to cattle, pigs, and poultry.  You are not protected by eating commercially grown organic vegetables, because these too are fertilized with commercial manures. North American organic standards recommend the use of organic manure, but it is not mandatory.  This is because there is not enough organic manure to meet the needs of organic production.  For those of you with your own gardens, I would recommend sticking with manures from animals that are primarily grass fed – I use horse manure that I collect from local stables and commercially bagged sheep manure, both of which are widely available.

In the Kitchen

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

February and March are challenging times if you are trying to eat locally and seasonally. If this is your first year at this, you are probably limited to what the grocery store has to offer in terms of local produce. In my little local grocery, that includes carrots, parsnip, cabbage, onions, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and apples. If you can manage to build a small cold storage in your basement (I will talk about this in the fall) you can have a larger selection of winter vegetables – also it is much more likely that these can be organically grown. I only have a small garden and do not grow my own winter vegetables but I place an order with a local, organic farmer each fall and stock up my cold storage room sometime in November each year. I have been doing this since I left my farm and my very big garden 10 years ago and it has worked amazingly well for me. If you are looking for sources of local foods, try going online and seeing if your area has a local food initiative that publishes some sort of directory. In Kingston we have, in Toronto there is Local Food Plus at, and the Vancouver area has Farm Folk/City Folk at Another great resource is Canadian Organic Growers ( – this organization publishes a quarterly magazine as well as a monthly e-newsletter and has chapters all across Canada. Often local chapters will publish a producer’s list which can be very helpful.

I have finally managed to be diligent about making sprouts in the winter and I find this makes a great difference to our winter diet. Each year I seem to like a few different kinds of sprouts – this year it is the year of the lentil! I sprout ordinary green lentils from the health food store, though you can buy a smaller variety that is perhaps more delicate tasting. I mix my lentil sprouts in a grated carrot salad or add them to coleslaw, but mostly I find that I eat them fresh, by the handful and straight out of the sprouter. Putting them in salads gets my children to eat them. I also make a finer sprout mix of alfalfa, fenugreek, clover, and radish that we use for sandwiches and wraps. I don’t buy lettuce in the winter so eventually the imported lettuce eaters in my family tried the sprouts and realized that they like them!

I was browsing through a friend’s very beautiful cookbook from China. Most of the recipes were fairly complicated and had ingredients that I do not have in my kitchen but there was one simple salad that caught my eye. It called for

4 cups of finely sliced cabbage – better to slice that to grate

2 cups of mung bean sprouts – you can buy them at the grocery store or make your own.

⅛ to ½ tsp of red chili flakes

½ – 1 tsp salt

1-2 tbsp oil

2-3 tbsp rice vinegar

The original recipe did not call for oil but I find that it mellows out the taste somewhat. It also called for a full tablespoon of salt, which seems to me to be too much. After you combine the ingredients, it is a good idea to let the salad sit for several hours. The chili flakes are spicy and hot but not overwhelming and the salt brings out the moisture in the cabbage and in doing so loses some of its salty flavor. It’s a nice fresh tasting salad with a good bite to it. Enjoy.