Certifiable - Why Trustmarks Matter
Wading through the hundreds of labels & claims on an item of food is a daunting task. There are trustmarks for everything....where it comes from (local, country of origin), it's pedigree (heritage, non-GM,) the production method (free-range, free-run, pastured, biodynamic, humane, permaculture, ecological, natural, organic, shade-grown), how workers are treated (fair trade), cultural or religious requirements (kosher, halal) it's content (gluten-free, peanut-free) and many more.
While it would be nice to be able to take everything on face value, now that I'm on the farming & sales side of things, I see how some businesses and companies take advantage of the confusion over labelling to sell us 'food as usual' or even worse, outright lie.
Though it's challenging to make sense of it all, I believe that as ethical eaters who are concerned about the health of ourselves, our communities and our environment that we have a responsibility to try. This is where certification and trustmarks are important because it means that an independent 3rd party has inspected the farm and CERTIFIED that the claims are true.
In our post about '5 things to think about when buying chicken' we covered how chickens (or any meat for that matter) is raised and questions you can ask. Not all of those have a certification, but here are several that our farm (which is just over a year old) has made the effort to achieve in order to validate your trust. We're listing them in order that we received the certification, providing a brief description and and we're including the cost because one of the things you often hear is that 'it's too expensive' to get certified.
While writing this, we discovered this great website - www.lexiconoffood.com - that is dedicated to making sense of it all.
As always, we're happy to answer questions and discuss the ins & outs and successes & failures of our food system.
Dave & Em
CFI Artisanal Chicken
In Canada, chickens are supply-managed (like dairy & eggs) and to raise more than 300 you need quota. Anyone can raise under 300, but they can only sell at their farm. The Artisanal Chicken program is managed by the Chicken Farmers of Ontario and was introduced in 2016. It allows small farms to raise up to 3,000 without buying quota. Farmers pay a small fee per bird and get audited on 195+ criteria that covers safety, biosecurity, animal welfare and ability to manage reams of paper.
Cost: $0.25 per chicken + HST
FeastON is managed by the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance. It's a certification you're more likely to see with restaurants & caterers than you are with farmers. They verify that restaurants are sourcing at least 25% of food and 25% of beverage from Ontario.
This year, our farm became a Preferred Purveyor, meaning that if a restaurant sources from us that it's guaranteed to be from Ontario (making their audit a bit easier).
Cost: $1,000 + HST
Managed by the Farmers Markets Ontario, this verifies that 100% of the food being sold by a farmer at a farmers market comes from that farm.
Cost: $100 + HST