What is Organic?
Organic is the only type of agriculture with a set of principles that puts nature first. These principles are enshrined in industry-developed standards approved by consumers and verified annually by third party organizations. As of 2009, federal organic standards are now backed by government regulations and oversight.
Organic standards are based on seven general principles:
- Protect the environment, minimize soil degradation and erosion, decrease pollution, optimize biological productivity and promote a sound state of health.
- Maintain long-term soil fertility by optimizing conditions for biological activity within the soil.
- Maintain biological diversity within the system.
- Recycle materials and resources to the greatest extent possible within the enterprise.
- Provide attentive care that promotes the health and meets the behavioural needs of livestock.
- Prepare organic products, emphasizing careful processing, and handling methods in order to maintain the organic integrity and vital qualities of the products at all stages of production
- Rely on renewable resources in locally organized agricultural systems.
CAN/CGSB - 32.310 -2006
Why is Organic so Important?
In August of 2005 Bean North Coffee Roasting Company Ltd. became the first processing facility certified for organic production north of the 60th parallel. Our roasting facility in Yukon was the missing link in the certification chain, not our coffee. Through our many travels to the coffee lands and the many conversations we continue to have with our farmer partners in the south it become clear that certifying our facility was the right thing to do for our farmers and our customers.
To supply us with certified organic products, farmers not only grow the coffee organically but also their family garden - the whole farm is certified along with the cooperative and all of its members. This puts a great amount of pressure on farmers to ensure they follow the guidelines laid out by the certifying agency; otherwise, the whole coop could lose certification. It is also very costly for a cooperative to run an organic program, the administration and training costs alone run into thousands of dollars depending on the size of the membership.
From the farmer cooperatives’ point of view, the benefits in coffee quality, price paid per pound and community health make certifying worth all the hard work. From our point of view, it was clear that we could know longer put all the pressure on the communities we were trying to benefit. If we expected them to provide us with the certification, we should take the steps to continue this process and offer our customers the same guarantee.
If Bean North Coffee Roasting Company Ltd. did not certify our roasting facility we still could have distributed our coffee products locally, and labeled them as organic. However, for any coffee sold outside Yukon, the term organic could not be used on the packaging.
Bean North Coffee Roasting Company Ltd is currently Certified Organic by SAI Global Certification Service Pty Ltd. (Canada).
Local AND Organic
Sadly, "local" and "organic" have had the misfortune of entering our vocabulary as separate concepts and then getting jumbled into one, unclear concept. Canadian Organic Growers and its chapters and affiliated organizations are about local AND organic. Bean North Coffee Roasting Company Ltd. supports national organizations, community farmers and our local community market.
Canadian Organic Standards
On June 30, 2009, the Organic Products Regulations (OPR) came into effect, making the Canadian Organic Standards (COS) mandatory. The OPR will legally require organic products to be certified according to the COS if they are traded across provincial or international borders or use the Canada Organic Logo.