Archive for February, 2011

Walmart goes organic. This has been so in the States for a few years now and in Canada for about one year. The articles are out there, but what does it mean to the organic movement?

This was brought up at the Canadian Organic Growers conference closing panel discussion this past weekend.

You might be forgiven if your first reaction to Walmart and organic is one of cynicism. But step back for a moment and consider the following.

If the organic movement is entering the mainstream, it will reach more people, some of whom may never have eaten an organic anything before.

This could be a first step for many new eaters.

It also means more fields will be devoted to chemical-free farming, and more square kilometres of our country’s soil will be able to heal.

Will this change the organic movement? Only time will tell. It may well weaken the movement. After all, Walmart’s reputation of low-balling businesses out of business is unlikely to change. Could this then put organic farms out of business?

I say that if we want to heal out systemically ailing (and failing) food supply chain, we need to start somewhere. I’m choosing to see this as a sign of the organic movement’s success.

The new agriculture is growing ecologically, socially and financially. If organics goes mainstream, really mainstream, and therefore becomes more affordable (and attracts even more followers), then perhaps the hard(er) core grassroots folks among us could then turn our attention to the embattled fight against GMOs, which our current organic standards do not even consider.

Just a thought.

COG 2011 poster
The Canadian Organic Growers conference is taking place this Saturday, February 19, 2011 at the U of T Conference Centre. I had the pleasure of attending this event last year, and wouldn’t miss it for anything this year. I am even dragging my LocalFoody colleague, François — I lie, he’s equally psyched — along for the informative, enjoyable and very tasty ride (they serve a great lunch).

This year’s keynote speaker is Canadian author Silver Donald Cameron, who will be sharing some of his insights into Bhutan’s new economic model of “Gross National Happiness”, a system that values a more holistic interpretation of “quality of life” than we might be used to and includes the organic certification of the entire nation’s agricultural system.


Panel discussions include GMOs, heritage seeds, Walmart, bread & beer, beauty products and more.

Where: U of T Conference Centre, 89 Chestnut St.
When: Saturday 19 February 2011, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: $85 (Worth it, and students, retirees and the unwaged get a special rate.)

If you care about your food and want to be informed of the issues, this is a must-go-to event.