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By The Bushel Community Food Co-op
Healthy Food

The BtB Co-op is committed to producing and selling ecologically-responsible food. This means working with producers to expand our local production capacity and help more farmers achieve a strict set of sustainable food production standards. Some producers will have Canadian organic certification; other producers will be using co-op resources to work towards that goal. Why are these standards important?

1 - Your health - Pesticide free food. Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides have been proven to cause ill health effects in humans, particularly in children. This is a mammoth topic that deserves much exploration. Please see our links to learn more.

2 - Soil, water & air conservation - Natural fertilizers and non chemical pest management options are used in balance with resources and the environment. Pesticides and synthetic fertilizers contaminate our soil, air and water, affecting our resources, our health, and the health of local wildlife. This is a mammoth topic deserving more exploration. Please see our links to learn more.

3 - Greater nutritional value for your dollar- Natural fertilizers provide macro- and micro- nutrients required by plants. Synthetic fertilizers contain Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK). Plants require a minimum of 17 different nutrients. Nitrogen helps a plant to grow large but macro- and micro- nutrients are required for a plant to develop its nutritional properties and flavour. "Since the introduction of synthetic fertilizers nutritional value of fruits and vegetables has declined significantly. Potatoes - no Vitamin A, a decrease of 57% of iron and Vitamin C. Tomatoes - Calcium has decreased by 61.5%." Thomas Pawlick - The End of Food

"6 tonnes of soil are lost for every 1 tonne of grain"
4 - Soil Stewardship - Fertilizers used in organic farming are natural including animal manure, compost and green manure produced by crop rotation that includes green manure. This adds not only nutrients to the soil but also structure which helps with moisture retention and reduces soil erosion. Synthetic fertilizers do not replace much needed soil structure. In the American Midwest cropland has lost 2 feet of its surface soil. Since the 1980's after the formation of the Land Institute, a response to the need for soil stewardship, 6 tonnes of soil are lost for every 1 tonne of grain. Robert Frenay - Pulse - http://www.pulsethebook.com/index.php/index.php?tag=soil-erosion

5 - Reduce green house gas emissions - A variety of methods are employed to control pests, including companion planting, attracting pest predators, using nets and cloches as a physical barrier, crop rotation and manually removing pests. Often fertilizers are produced on the farm. Massive amounts of fossil fuels are required to mine, manufacture and transport chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, contributing to climate change and poor air quality.

6 - Energy conservation - Traditional organic farms rely on energy from human effort which creates employment and reduces reliance on fossil fuel dependent mechanization.

7 - No Genetically Modified Organisms. Although this technology seems promising the true health and environmental costs of using GMO's has not been clearly identified.

8 - Reduce reliance on large Agri-busness - Organic farmers collect/trade/buy locally produced seeds. This has huge implications. Firstly they are neither reliant on nor supporting large, corporate agri-businesses that have only maximum profit for shareholders in mind. It keeps dollars in the community and the farmer's pocket. Secondly the seeds are from plants that grow well in the local growing conditions, resulting in healthier crops and fruit for harvest.

Why Local?

1 - To support farmers in our community - we know our doctors and our dentists; let's get to know the folks who grow our food.

2 - Reduced carbon emissions - Fewer miles equals less carbon emissions. Long distance travel from industrial farms relies on massive amounts of fossil fuels contributing to climate change and poor air quality.

3 - Keep your dollars in the community - Buying direct from farmers or from locally owned businesses that carry locally grown food helps build a stronger local economy.

4 - Variety - Small local farms can offer variety. There are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes, thousands of apple varieties, and we could go on. Big industrial farms are growing only one kind of vegetable in any one field to maximize yield and reduce expenses.

5 - Freshness - Picked when ripe, at peak flavour potential, and do not travel far or long, so all the freshness is maintained.

6 - Nutrition - Picked when ripe, at peak nutritional value. Fruits and vegetables that are packed for long distance travel are harvested before they are ripe, before nutrition and flavour are fully developed. On top of early harvest fruits and vegetables begin to lose nutrients when they are picked so long distance travel results in a fruit that began with minimal nutrients losing more each mile.

7 - Nurturing and protecting our local food supply - Losing farmers from our community also means losing farmland to urban expansion. Currently it is very cheap to buy food from abroad. This is due to lower wages, subsidized fuel costs and industrial sized farms controlled by agri-business. This is not sustainable and one day food from abroad may be very expensive if available at all. Many regions that grow much of our food are deserts that rely on ground water, not rain, for irrigation. Water tables are depleting quicker than they are replenished. Heavy watering also leads to salinization of the soil as sodium leaches up toward the surface. It is the salinization of cropland that has resulted in the collapse of civilizations before us and is responsible for the 200% increase in sodium levels of tomatoes.