One of the things I love about Spring-time in Ontario is the fresh, local produce that is readily available and on sale. I don’t worry as much about buying organic when I know the produce is from Ontario or Quebec. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, when produce travels thousands of miles or is stored for long periods of time; it loses about 50% of its vitamins & minerals, and is usually higher in pesticides to keep it fresher longer. When we buy local produce we’re getting a more nutritious product and supporting our farmers; it’s a win-win!
So you’re probably asking yourself; what about the pesticides? I recently contacted an Issues Communication Manager from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (to get more info on organic vs. conventional Canadian beef for a future post) and she provided me with a ton of information on organic and conventional agricultural practices in Canada. I found Health Canada’s “Pesticide & Pest Management” info really helpful. Canada has strict rules & regulations in place when it comes to pesticide use on our food;
“Health Canada regulates pesticides under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) and its Regulations. Under this Act, pesticides must be registered before they can be used in Canada.
Before any pesticide can be registered in Canada, Health Canada must review the scientific information to make sure that it has value and there are no health environmental concerns related to its use…
The Government of Canada uses compliance and enforcement activities to make sure producers properly use and apply pesticides and respect established residue limits. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) monitors and enforces residue limits in both domestic and imported foods. The CFIA reports that over the last 10 years, residue data shows that the compliance rate is consistently very high for fresh fruits and vegetables.
For example, in 2006/07:
- More than 99% of Canadian fruits and vegetables and 99% of imported foods tested were well below Canada’s residue limits.
- No residues were found in 90% of Canadian fruits and vegetables and in 89% of food imports tested, at CFIA‘s analytical limit.”
It’s reassuring to know that if you can’t afford to buy organic produce year-round; you can buy local, seasonal Canadian produce with confidence. And even though the verdict looks good for imported produce, I still stick to the Dirty Dozen list when I buy imported produce.
As you can see from the picture of my salad from the other night; I’ve been enjoying Canadian tomatoes, cucumber, & peppers. And there is actually a lot of produce in season right now. Check out Foodland Ontario’s list of seasonal produce to find out what’s local & available right now!