Category Archives: Organic

Food certified as organic

Garlic Rust Fungus

Garlic rust fungus, close up

In further pest and pestilence news from the community garden, my garlic has developed a nasty rust fungus problem.  And mine is by  no means the only affected plot, thanks to a miserably cold and wet April and May. And June.

Thank heavens for our garden Education Committee of One who knew what it was and tenaciously spent time researching how to deal with it.

Notes-to-self if you are encountering this issue:

  • The fungus can spread to leeks and onions also, but not other types of plants
  • Caused by excess rain and lack of light and/or soil inadequacies
  • Possible solutions: Create sprays with either baking soda, milk, neem oil (huh?) or chamomile tea (see recipes below)
  • Cut off the leaves then dispose of them (NOT in your compost bin, people!) to ensure the fungus does not spread. Word on the street is, the stalk continues to photosynthesis even if you remove the leaves
  • Disinfect your clippers, etc. also to ensure the fungus does not spread from plant to plant (this is serious, folks!)
  • The good news is garlic rust does not appear to affect the garlic bulb — I pulled one to test and it looks just fine

Infected garlic, sans leaves

Organic, Rust Fungus Spray Recipes

  1. 1 gallon water, 1Tbsp baking soda, 2.5 Tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 1Tbsp milk per gallon water
  3. 1 tsp neem oil, 1Litre water or chamomile tea

These teas may be more preventative than cures; spray on infected leaves in morning for several days in a row (especially if rain is washing off leaves – the oil helps spray stick to leaf).

I have cut off all the leaves and am trying the baking soda recipe. I have no great hope of eradicating the rust, but I do hope to minimize any further infestation on both mine and my neighbours’ plants.

More on Garlic

If you want additional general info about garlic such as how and when to harvest and cure it, check out the Garlic Farm website, which I found in my garlic research travels.

They are located in British Columbia (middle of the province at the US border in a town appropriately named Midway), and sell organic garlic seed in Canada and the US. They start taking orders July 2nd on a first come, first serve basis for delivery in September. Get your order in now!

Does Wild Taste Better or is Hunger the Ultimate Spice?

Ever since I was a kid I’ve noticed that the impression a meal makes on me is directly proportionate to the lengths I went to in order to prepare it. Like when I go fishing whatever I catch tastes great, way better than any fancy local fishmonger bought equivalent. Having an inquisitive mind with a bit of analytical twist, being a foraging enthusiast and a lifelong foodie I decided to put that theory to the test.

Zeller's Bolete

Zeller's Bolete - photo by Ron Wolf

So last fall off I went with my mushroom guru Sequoia Lesosky to see what can be found in a local forest floor this time of year, and I came home with a variety of exotic mushrooms. I also bought some wild mushrooms of the same or similar kind on Granville Island Market to use in the same recipes for my “control group”. I patiently waited until tomorrow when I prepared a feast of three different dishes from the wild and bought mushrooms and shared them with my family. The verdict?

To my family there was no discernible difference. To me the wild stuff tasted stronger and quite different than any of the store bought stuff, which is what I sort of expected as for me it wasn’t a blind tasting – I knew which was which. And then I decided that it must be that the difference is owed to the residual “spirit of the hunt”. It took a lot of effort to get the whole thing together, and it was all in my plate. In theirs? It was just soup or risotto or whatever. I decided they missed out. I am taking my family with me the next time I take to the forest.

Food Labels: USDA Organic

Food Label Tag GreenThe US has the National Organic Program as its certification and labeling system. Items certified through this system carry the “USDA Organic” label.

Excerpt from Ecoholic

“This stamp reflects the fact that the US (namely th130px-usda_organic_sealsvge Department of Agriculture) finally implemented a national organic system in 2002. Trouble is, it created a ceiling, not a floor, and certifiers that might have been more stringent were forced to ‘harmonize’ or drop their standards to get in line with the national program. Some say the USDA system is weaker than the European system and, in some cases, the Canadian system in that it allows substances such as Chilean nitrites on organic crops (making California lettuce much prettier than ours), and farms can have pesticide-sprayed crops on one side and organics on the other. But Canada also allows a couple of substances that the US doesn’t. Several attempts to significantly water down USDA regs have been bucked.”

From the USDA website

“The National Organic Program (NOP) develops, implements, and administers national production, handling, and labeling standards for organic agricultural products. The NOP also accredits the certifying agents (foreign and domestic) who inspect organic production and handling operations to certify that they meet USDA standards.”

Also see:
Biologique Canada Organic
100% Certified Organic

Food Labels: 100% Certified Organic

Food Label Tag GreenWhat? Certified Organic doesn’t mean 100% Certified Organic? Sorry, but according to Wikipedia, products made with up to 95% organic ingredients can still carry the USDA Organic label.

What Ecoholic has to say:

“You might pay a little more for it, but this is the purest stuff you can find under any certification system. No synthetic inputs can be snuck in, no matter who the certifier.” agrees:

All ingredients – the produce itself and anything used in processing – were grown and harvested according to USDA organic standards. The name of the certifying agency must appear on the package.”

Also see:
USDA Organic
Biologique Canada Organic

Food Labels: Biologique Canada Organic

Food Label Tag GreenCanada’s new system of certifying and identifying organic products comes into effect June 30, 2009. According to the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s website, “When the Organic Products Regulations come into full force on June 30, 2009, voluntary use of the “Biologique Canada Organic” designation and logo will be permitted on the labelling of those food products certified as meeting the National Organic Standards (Canadian Organic Production Systems General Principles and Management Standards CAN/CGSB 32.310 and Permitted Substances Lists CAN/CGSB 32.311).”

After June 30, 2009, consumers should see this logo (above) on various organic products. Obviously, this new system will take a while to be on all packaging, so we’ve included an excerpt from Ecoholic on what the Canadian system looks like now.canada-organic-logo-09

Excerpt from Ecoholic

“There are dozens of certifiers in Canada, so until the fed’s new Canada Organic regulation and label are fully phased in you might find a confusing number of logos on grocery shelves certifying to slightly different standards. (Quebec and BC are the only provinces that already had their own mandatory systems in place.)”

“In general, to qualify for organic certification, farms have to be pesticide-free for three years and must avoid synthetic inputs such as pesticides and antibiotics, as well as the deliberate use of GMO’s [Genetically Modified Organisms], while stressing soil-building. Certifiers also tend to have basic stipulations about animal welfare (no caged chickens or rabbits, for instance), although European programs are better than those in Canada and the US on this front.”

See also:
USDA Organic
100% Certified Organic

Food Labels: Organic

Food Label Tag GreenYes, this is a term we consumers often “take to the bank”, but does it mean what we think? No, sadly. Read on…

Excerpt from Ecoholic

“It may be organic, and then again it may not — if it’s not certified, it’s impossible to know, since use of the term hasn’t historically been regulated. Some small farmers rebel against all the pricey red table of certification and say their standards are higher anyway. This is a n easier sell to trusted customers at, say, local farmers’ markets. But again, it’s strictly a trust system. Some studies in teh US have shown that nearly half the eggs labelled organic without being certified are not organic at all. Unless a product is certified, it’s hard to know.”

According to the

“[Organic is] a way of growing and processing food, including produce, that doesn’t involve the use of artificial ingredients, preservatives or irradiation. Products labeled “organic” must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients, according to USDA regulations. The name of the certifying agency must appear on the package. Loose or bunched produce items may be identified as organic in the grocery store by a PLU code that begins with a 9.”

See also:
USDA Organic
Biologique Organic Canada
100% Certified Organic

Food Co-operative Helps Build Food System

NOW BC Co-opI view access to a variety of local and “more local” food sources as an important part of building and strengthening our food systems at a grass roots level. (Like any product, if you don’t know it exists or where to get it, you can’t buy it. That means you can’t support the farmer, who may have to stop producing it, so now your only option is to get it from far away places… It’s a downward spiral.)

When my fellow community gardener Daryl told me about NOW BC, a member-owned food co-operative that operates within Metro Vancouver, BC, I asked him how he got involved.

“My initial reason for joining NOW BC was that I know the guy who started it. But besides that, there are several other strong reasons:

  1. It’s a co-op where members have a say in how it’s run and share in its success. This means that profit isn’t a primary motive like other businesses.
  2. Delivery ‘clubs’ allow fellow members within neighbourhoods to meet and form ‘community’ around the important topic of local and organic food. Individual delivery can’t do this. One club has started a ‘two-block diet’ network where they all grow food in their yards to share with each other.
  3. And, prices are cheaper than other organic delivery services.

Plus, I think it’s important to support local organic farmers so they can continue to make a good living.”

If you want to be a part of the NOW BC network, find a delivery depot in your neighbourhood or start your own.

West Coast Seeds

west-coast-seedsThe guru of west coast organic gardening and seed selection is West Coast Seeds. I’ve heard the name uttered in hushed, reverent, gardener-in-the-know tones particularly in reference to the annual West Coast Seeds free Gardening Guide.

If you want access to non-Monsanto-interfered-with seeds, these folks are your local source.

Not only do they have over 600 vegetable, herb and flower seed varieties, they have the envied, must-have, Planting Chart for Coastal BC on page 6. The catalogue/guide is filled with gardening tips, organic pest solutions, and other misc. gardening information that make it worth its weight, even if you buy your genetically modified seeds from the local hardware store or nursery.

If you can’t get down to their Delta location (must have car and up-to-date map!), by all means check them out online, request the catalogue, and order your seeds by mail. If you can get to the store, you’ll be treated to a wide variety of books, tools, garden enhancements (i.e. bee houses), and friendly advice to assist in your organic gardening endeavours.

Oh, and sign up for their newsletter, which is also full of timely planting tips — seasoned and novice gardeners alike will want to know what West Coast Seeds has to say.

PS: The website is a goldmine of information, peruse only when you have plenty of time to “waste”.

Note: (Jan 2010) I get periodic comments from individuals asking or accusing West Coast Seeds of selling GMO and/or Monsanto seeds. Frankly, from the comments I see it feels a bit like an urban myth that won’t die. However, Local Delicious makes no claims and is not a representative of West Coast Seeds. If you have questions, please contact WCS directly. If, on the other hand, you have proof of misdoing, we’re happy to talk…

Granola Leaves Me Dry

I’m working my way through a package of New World Natural Foods organic, barley malt granola. It’s slow going.

I liked all of the things that the packaging had to say:

  • Locally made here in BC
  • Organic
  • High fibre
  • Low sodium
  • No sugar added

What I can’t get past is the crunchy chew. I don’t mean the traditional crunchy granola texture that’s a result of a toasted, sugar coating. I mean a crunchy, the-oats-didn’t-quite-get-cooked-through texture. Like rice that’s taken off the stove too soon and is still crunchy inside.

Maybe that’s what they were going for, but I like even my healthy food not to wear out my jaw.

On the upside, New World is pretty conscientious about their product. They source locally as much as possible, pack in recyclable or biodegradable containers, add no processed sugar and very little salt.

And I recognize and can pronounce everything on the list of ingredients.

Have you tried this product? Add your feedback, post a comment…