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Canadian Organic Heroes Recognized

Saturday, February 10th 2007 12:59:59pm

Media Release - For Immediate Release - PHOTOS AVAILABLE

Attention News/Environment/Agriculture/Food Reporters and Editors:

Canada's Organic Heroes recognized for advancing Canada's organic food sector

Ontarians win national awards

(Toronto, Ontario, Feb. 10, 2007)  Today, the Canadian Organic Growers (COG), at their 1st Annual Organic Hero Awards ceremony leading up to the Growing Up Organic conference in Toronto on Feb. 17th, named four winners.  The awards included an Organic Organization Hero, an Organic Supporter Hero, the Best Restaurant Serving Organic Food, and an Organic Media Hero.

Held at the St. Lawrence Farmers Market in downtown Toronto, amid dozens of vendors displaying tables of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats and baked goods, Laura Telford, Executive Director of COG, and Tanmayo Krupanszky (Tan-mayo Crew-pan-ski), Chair of COG's Toronto Chapter, presented the awards to this year's heroes.

"Thanks to the dedication and hard work of our first ever Organic Heroes, more and more people are beginning to understand why organic agriculture is so important," said Dr. Telford.  "These heroes are building a better food system for Canada, one that is healthier for both people and our environment.  I'm very pleased to recognize these leaders in the organic food movement."

Michael Stadtlander, a master organic chef and farmer, is the Organic Supporter Hero.  He has championed the development of sustainable food systems and has worked to build connections between consumers and organic producers.  He is best known for his farm in Singhampton, northwest of Toronto, where connoisseurs of fine food can indulge in a seven course meal made in part from organic food grown on his own Eigensinn Farm.

This year's Organic Organization Hero is Ann Slater, President of the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO).  As a volunteer, Ms. Slater has made EFAO a significant voice for farmers practicing small scale and sustainable agriculture in Ontario. She has made presentations to government, worked on industry committees, and has demonstrated success at helping the Canadian organic sector mature.  Ms. Slater is from Lakeside (N.E. of London).

The Bread and Roses Café, located in Hamilton, is Canada's Best Restaurant Serving Organic Food.  A project of the Sky Dragon community development co-op ( www.skydragon.org), the Bread and Roses Café bases its affordable menu on organic and fair trade choices from as many local organic sources as possible.  Karen Burson and Kevin MacKay accepted the award.

Finally, the Organic Media Hero award goes to Toronto freelance writer Jill Eisen for her CBC series "Organic Goes Mainstream."  She researched organics in-depth and successfully communicated the complexity of organic issues in an understandable and entertaining way.

"Congratulations to all of the winners," said Dr. Telford.  "2006 was a banner year for Canada's growing organic sector and I look forward to similar success in 2007."

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For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:

Karen Ageson, COG, 613-216-0741, office(at)cog.ca

Brent Kulba (ECO media relations), 416-972-7401

Canadian Organic Growers (COG), a national charitable organization (13014 0494 RR0001), is Canada's national membership-based education and networking organization representing farmers, gardeners and consumers in all provinces.  COG promotes sustainable, organic stewardship of the land, and organic food and fiber.  For more information, visit www.cog.ca.

COG is also organizing a conference, called Growing Up Organic, which takes place in Toronto on Saturday, February 17th, 2007 from 9 am to 5 pm at 89 Chestnut Street (University of Toronto).  This is the first conference in Canada to focus on the health benefits of organic food.  See http://cog.ca/growing-up-organic/conference.htm. Media passes are available by contacting Karen Ageson,
613-216-0741, office(at)cog.ca.

2007 Canadian Organics Fact Sheet

The Organics sector is the fastest growing part of the Agri-Food industry in Canada

    * Sales are increasing at 25% per year.
    * Canada had 3,618 certified organic producers in 2005.  Another 241 farmers were making the transition from conventional to organic farming.
    * Over 1.3 million acres (530,919 ha) of land in Canada are used to grow organic food. Another 118,500 acres (47,955 ha) are in transition to certification.
    * Wheat is Canada's largest organic crop with over 187,000 acres (75,816 ha).
    * Organic livestock production is increasing dramatically. From 2004 to 2005, the beef herd increased by 30%, sheep numbers by 19%, laying hens by 20% and poultry by 56%.
    * The number of certified organic processors and handlers increased by 47% between 2004 and 2005, with the largest increases observed in British Columbia and Quebec.


Organic agriculture bans the use of harmful substances

    * Organic agriculture prevents approximately 1,157,748 kg of synthetic chemicals from entering our environment every year, including synthetic pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, rodenticides, fertilizers and wood preservatives.
    * Organic agriculture also bans the use of sewage sludge and materials and products produced from genetic engineering.
    * Animals are raised without the use of antibiotics and growth hormones, or other synthetic veterinary drugs.
    * Animals consume only 100% organic feed.


Organic food has added health benefits

    * Eating organic food reduces the amount of toxic chemicals ingested.
    * Organic fruits and vegetables have significantly higher levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants, produced by the plant to help fight off insects and competing plants.
    * Organic food production avoids the use of genetically modified organisms.
    * Organic food has no synthetic dyes, food additives or preservatives.


Organic agriculture is a holistic system of production

    * The principle goal of organic agriculture is to develop productive enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment.
    * It is designed to optimize the productivity and fitness of diverse communities within the agro-ecosystem, including soil organisms, plants, livestock and people.
    * It replenishes and maintains long-term soil fertility by providing optimal conditions for soil biological activity, through crop rotation, tillage and cultivation practices; and by using natural fertilizers.
    * It improves surrounding water quality.
    * It provides attentive and ethical care that meets both the health and behavioral requirements of livestock.
    * It maintains the integrity of organic food and processed products through each step of the process from planting to consumption.
    * It reduces energy use in the various stages of production.


Certified organic farms and processors must follow a regulated set of standards

    * The federal government passed the Organic Products Regulation on December 14, 2006 ( http://canadagazette.gc.ca/partII/2006/20061221-x6/html/extra-e.html ).
    * The new regulation will provide an easily recognizable national logo to identify food that is certified as "Canada Organic," and meets a mandatory standard of organic food production.
    * Following a 2 year phase in period, all organic products must be certified organic for inter-provincial and international trade.
    * Under the proposed organic regulation, organic certification bodies will be accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency based on the recommendation of approved accreditation bodies.
    * Certification bodies ensure that the organic farms or processing facilities that they certify as organic are in compliance with the organic standard.
    * Verification is done by trained independent inspectors who visit the farms or processing facilities annually.

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For more information, contact:

Karen Ageson, COG, 613-216-0741, e-mail: office(at)cog.ca

Brent Kulba (ECO media relations), 416-972-7401

Canadian Organic Growers (COG), a national charitable organization (13014 0494 RR0001), is Canada's national membership-based education and networking organization representing farmers, gardeners and consumers in all provinces.  COG promotes sustainable, organic stewardship of the land, and organic food and fiber.

www.cog.ca