Why do Canadians eat organic?

In 2018, there were 5,791 organic crop producers in Canada, up 46 percent from 3,955 in 2015.

Data from the Canadian Organic Trade Association (COTA), released the second week of September, shows the number of organic farmers has exploded in the last couple years.

From 2012-15, the number of organic crop farmers grew slowly, going from 3,500 to about 4,000. Since that time, the population has climbed more rapidly. It jumped 300 in 2016, 575 in 2017 and almost 1,000 in 2018.

In one year, from 2017-18, the number of organic producers in Canada increased by 21 percent.

Most regions witnessed growth in organic numbers, including the prairie provinces such as Alberta, where the number of crop producers went from 280 in 2013 to 615 in 2018.

More farmers are switching to organic because of prices, which can be two or three times higher than prices of conventional grain.

“It was definitely the collision of the markets negatively impacting conventional and positively impacting organic,” said Laura Telford, Manitoba Agriculture’s organic specialist.

Acreage under organic management has also increased. As of 2018, there were 3.3 million organic acres, made up of the following:

  • 2.02 million acres of forage, green manure and natural areas
  • 1.12 million acres of crops
  • 79,000 acres of fruits and vegetables
  • 36,000 acres listed as other

In its webinar, COTA also presented the results of a poll, asking Canadians why they eat organic and how often they consume organic foods.

The public survey, of 1,000 Canadians, was conducted in December 2018. It found that organic fruits and vegetables are most popular with Canadians, followed by breads and cereals, dairy products and eggs.

Organic motivation

A Technomic Consumer Poll, conducted in December 2018, surveyed 1,000 Canadians. The poll was a 50-50 split of males and females and was representative of geographic regions in Canada, the pollsters said.

Avoiding meat

Eighty out of 1,000 Canadians, or eight percent, said they are vegetarians, but the percentage was higher for younger Canadians.

  • 18-24 — 12 percent
  • 25-34 — 10 percent
  • 35-44 — 8 percent
  • 45-54 — 3 percent

Why buy organic breads, grains and cereals?

Respondents cited more than one reason.

  • Reduce pesticide exposure in my diet (41 percent)
  • Avoid consuming GMOs (40 percent)
  • To reduce use of pesticides and fertilizers (32 percent)
  • Promote soil health on ag lands (18)
  • Protect water quality on ag lands (16)
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions (13)

Why buy organic eggs?

Respondents cited more than one reason.

  • To avoid use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock (42)
  • Ensure animals are not fed GMOs (36)
  • To reduce pesticide exposure in my diet (31)
  • Reduce use of toxic pesticides (29)
  • For higher nutritional content (26)

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