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Local Food 101

Have you ever wondered why certain foods are labelled Organic and others Natural.  What is the difference between Grass Fed Beef and Corn Fed Beef?  Should you buy the Free Range Eggs or those from Free Run Hens?  Are there Nutritional advantages of one over the other?  And who makes the decisions concerning Certification and Labelling in Canada?  If you have asked any of these questions, then this section is for you! 

Based on some of the most commonly-asked questions about our food, Foodlink has compiled Local Food 101 to help you navigate through the confusion that surrounds food and agriculture terminology today. 

Choose topics to explore from the categories listed below.  This list will grow over time.  Should there be a term that's not here that you'd like to see covered, please let us know.  We'll do our homework to help get you the facts on your food!

Organic Beef


Organic farming promotes the sustainable health and productivity of the ecosystem the soil, plants, animals and people. This means that organic foods are farmed in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible way, focusing on soil regeneration, water conservation and animal welfare.


In order for beef to be labelled as organic, it must meet all terms of the National Standard for Organic Agriculture, which is enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.  Producers must comply with stringent production, animal husbandry and processing requirements, and be certified with an accredited certification body such as Organic Crop Producers and Processors Ontario, Quality Assurance International, Organic Crop Improvement Association International etc.  Because farmers and handlers must keep extensive records in order to be certified organic, the organic production system offers traceability of the animal from birth to marketing of the resulting meat.


Several important requirements exist in order for cattle to be classified as organic. They must be pastured on pesticide and herbicide free fields. All other food sources must be certified organic and free of GMOs and animal by-products. While the use of certain vaccinations is permitted, growth hormones and antibiotics are prohibited.  On farm conditions must support the natural behaviour of livestock and prevent excessive crowding. Manure is managed in such a way that it does not contribute to the contamination of crops, soil, or water and is optimized through nutrient recycling.  Organic beef must be processed in accredited facilities.


There are no requirements on the method of finishing organic cattle.  Both grasses and grains are acceptable as long as they are certified organic.