Organic farming was not born yesterday, but despite growing demand, it is still a complex subject for many. At Fourmi Bionique, organic is at the heart of our priorities since day one, as is local sourcing, in the production of our granola, snacks and for our bulk ingredients. However, we must constantly think about how to integrate it into our offer. Organic has a cost and requires compromise. Should we focus on organic granola or local granola? Organic or Fairtrade? Is organic certification always a guarantee and certainty of quality? You will see that the answers are far from obvious.
Why choose certified organic granola?
Organic certification guarantees that 70% or more of organic ingredients were used in the recipe. But what does that really mean? An ingredient that is classified as organic has been produced in the context of sustainable agriculture and respect for biodiversity. In other words, it is a mode of production that rules out the use of synthetic chemicals, GMOs. This type of agriculture recycles organic matter and practices crop rotation to preserve the soils.
It therefore guarantees greater respect for the product, environment and health. Indeed, a recent study conducted by the INSERM (the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research) on nearly 69,000 people and relayed in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that there is 25% less cancer in people who regularly consume organic food. Learn more.
These are all reasons that encourage us to focus on organic food and place it at the center of our thinking.
Should we choose organic or local?
This is an important question, as local organic products are often more expensive than abroad. In addition, not all ingredients can be produced anywhere: try to produce organic coconut here… That is when we need to ask the right questions. When should we buy organic and when should we buy local?
In order to answer this question, several facts must be taken into account
– The ingredient’s availability in the organic version.
– There is not enough organic food for everyone: it only represents 1% of all agricultural production.
– Not all organic supplies are equal. There may be differences in organic specifications across countries, although there are equivalencies/agreements between the different territories. And knowing that over 80% of Chinese underground water is polluted, we should definitely ask ourselves the question. Source New York Times.
– Local conventional agriculture sometimes has less impact on ecology, health and economy compared to buying organic food from far away on the planet. Source Équiterre. FYI, the food sector accounts for 15 to 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. Source FoodSource.
– Providing 100% organic products at coercive prices is not a progressive approach, it does not make it possible to democratize its access to the greatest number.
– Producing organic at a low price can lead to abuse: fraud (honey is for example very often tampered with), pressure on employees (low wages, illegal employment, black market…), or on ecology when demand is too high and we must produce more and more (industrial drifts, drying up of land…). Source Food and Wine.
– All products from conventional agriculture are not as exposed to pesticides. Learn more.
Organic farming can therefore present its own issues. When the option of local and organic is not possible, the choice is up to the companies: offering 100% organic and abandoning the philosophy that goes with it at the expense of having to change the recipe/product, or give it up and lose market share. As we say: every choice is a renunciation.
Not being organic granola also has a cost!
Not being organic granola stamped can have many repercussions for a company. This can close the doors of some specialized points of sale, a part of the customer base and even some countries where the legislation is more restrictive (especially in Europe).
At Fourmi Bionique, we have made choices that we fully assume, choices that sometimes force us to give up certain sales opportunities. We have decided to put the quality of our products at the center of everything. That is why we source local organic when possible, but not at all costs.
To create organic and cheaper products, we could have chosen, for example, to exclusively use organic cane sugar. However, our desire to respect the artisanal character of our recipes and to offer healthy and high-end granolas has led us to continue to add local honey, a luxury ingredient. And we are one of the few to do it! Unfortunately, it is difficult to use local organic honey considering that the production is low and the price is high. We could also buy organic imported honey, but we prefer to put forward the quality ingredients of our local producers.
Fourmi Bionique: the Organic, the Local and the Fairtrade
We shared with you here the tradeoffs we have made in order to offer healthy and qualitative blends.
Local organic supply mainly concerns grain products that are easily found in Quebec: oats, spelt, rye and barley.
The different organic products that we wish to source but whose supply is difficult in Quebec are imported from Quebec distributors who can assure us the quality and traceability: this concerns the cane sugar, the coconut (the flour and the coconut sugar), sesame seeds, flax seeds, white chocolate, 71% dark chocolate, milk and caramel chocolate, espresso chocolate, Thompson grapes, tamari, Siberian ginseng, marigold petals, astragalus powder, maca powder, elm powder, elderberries, marshmallow root, matcha tea.
Then, there are products that we wanted to source in Quebec, even if it means using conventional agriculture. We’re talking about honey, maple syrup, cranberries and artisan chocolates from Chocolats Geneviève Grandbois.
Finally, we also wanted to ensure that some products come from a fairtrade supply: 71% organic dark chocolate, espresso chocolate, milk and caramel chocolate and cocoa powder.
In addition, the local, organic or fairtrade origin of each ingredient is well specified on our packaging.
The organic certification of our Grand Granola
The Grand Granola range is Ecocert Canada certified in the 70 to 95% organic ingredients category, the other ingredients being conventional and GMO free. This certification meets CARTV’s Designation Specification Manual and an audit is carried out each year. It consists of a validation of ingredients, methods and preparation processes according to the reference system. The objective is to ensure the respect of the organic integrity of products throughout the production chain. For more information, visit Ecocert Canada.