Organic is the only type of agriculture with a set of principles that put nature first. These principles are enshrined in industry-developed standards approved by consumers and verified annually by accredited, third party certification bodies. As of 2009, National Canadian Organic Standards became backed by government regulation and oversight.
As defined in the Canadian Organic Standards, General Principles and Management Standards (CAN/CGSB-32.310) “Organic production is a holistic system designed to optimize the productivity and fitness of diverse communities within the agro-ecosystem, including soil organisms, plants, livestock and people. The principle goal of organic production is to develop operations that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment”.
When you see the Canada Organic Logo on a food or beverage item, you should feel comfortable knowing that the food was grown and processed in ways that meet our rigorous Canadian Organic Standards, which are based on the Principles of Organic Agriculture.
These Principles Include:
In the spirit of these Principles, The Canadian Organic Standards place strict limits and prohibitions on the use of:
- Persistent pesticides;
- Synthetic macronutrient fertilizers;
- The routine use of drugs, antibiotics or synthetic hormones;
- Animal cloning;
- Genetic engineering (“GMOs”);
- Sewage sludge (“biosolids”); Irradiation; and
- Artificial food colours, flavours, sweeteners, preservatives and many other processing aids and ingredients in processed foods. 
A good place to start is by looking for certification identification (the name of the certifier, ex: This product was certified organic by so-and-so) or for the Canada Organic Logo.
Certified organic products have undergone a strict certification process to ensure they meet Canadian Organic Standards, which are regulated by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). If you have doubts about an organic claim, you can file a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to either the national or regional offices.
If you’re unsure or unable to tell from the packaging, you should ask the producer or manufacturer. For instance, if you’re at a Farmer’s Market where often you may be purchasing food items which are not overly packaged, you should just ask the vendor. Producers who are certified organic are often pleased to hear your interest and enjoy discussing why and how they go about their organic production methods. Just ask!
For most non-organic farmers, it takes a minimum of 15 months and at least 36 months since the last use of prohibited substances to achieve organic certification. Organic Operators are inspected annually to ensure they continue to meet the Canadian Organic Standards.