Certified organic free-run and free-range
Because certified organic farms must adhere to higher welfare standards, and because certified organic farms are inspected and audited on an annual basis, we recommend consumers look for egg cartons that display the label of a recognized organic certifying body.
The following provides an alphabetical listing of Canadian, US and International organic certifiers, organizations and associations.
Organic Organizations, Certifiers and Associations
- ACO – Atlantic Certified Organic is a regionally based accredited organic certification program based in Nova Scotia and covers Atlantic Canada. 2009 was their first year of certifying farms and in August 2009 the Nova Scotia Organic Growers Association and the Maritime Organic Growers will join certification services to be governed by ACO. In the next year they will work towards expanding their accreditation to include USDA’s program.
- COABC – In BC, the recommended egg label is “BC Certified Organic” by COABC (Certified Organic Association of British Columbia). COABC is an association who certifies and educates farms on organic production. The association was created to certify organic producers and to ensure that they adhere to specific standards. It takes 36 months and a cost to the farmer to be certified as an organic producer. COABC certifies farms across BC and parts of Canada. Each product that is certified with COABC has the green checkmark on it in many grocery stores.
- Canadian Organic Growers – is a national membership-based education and networking organization for all provinces and territories. Members range from farmers and producers to consumers and educators. Not all of the members are certified organic but these members do share a common vision for an organic, sustainable, and bio-regionally based food system.
- COR – Most provinces have their own certifying body, and nationally, Canada now has the Canadian Organic Regime – COR – which provides a common set of standards for each province.
- Eco-cert – is a certifier based in Quebec and operates in all provinces. They guarantee that the products bearing the Eco-cert label have followed the rules and regulations throughout the whole process of production. They inspect the farms on a yearly basis as well as random inspections during the year.
- OCQV – L’Organisme de Certification Québec Vrai is formed by members who are the producers, distributors and retailers of their products. They want to bring consumers quality organic foods at a reasonable price. All the products meet the standards set out by Canadian standards and USDA standards. Quebec Vrai also makes an effort to maintain a better environment and maintain animal welfare standards.
- NOOA – North Okanagan Organic Association is a small organic certifier focused education to farmers and consumers. They offer a mentorship program and seminar sessions throughout the year. Certification is administered by both paid staff and a volunteer certification committee. NOOA is accredited with COABC and has a clear, straight forward certification process.
- PACS – Pacific Agricultural Certification Society provides certification for International standards that is accepted in all jurisdictions. It also administers the BC Certified Organic Program and is an accredited member of the Certified Organic Association of British Columbia (COABC).
- PEI Certified Organic Producers Co-op is a co-op whose members are producers and wish to see organic agriculture grow on Prince Edward Island. They are committed to producing quality healthy foods while protecting the environment. Their vision also includes a revitalized rural economy and fair incomes for organic farmers.
- OPAM – Organic Producers Association of Manitoba is an organic certification service to producers in Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the United States. It is a non-profit, member-owned organization accredited by the Standards Council of Canada and USDA.
USA & International
- GOA – Global Organic Alliance is an efficient organic certifier with accreditation with USDA and export certificates to Japan. GOA has specific standards that a farm must adhere to in order to sell products with ‘organic’ written on them.
- IFOAM – International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements is a worldwide organization advocating for the organic movement. They unit more than 750 organizations in over 108 countries with organic standards, verification and market identity. IFOAM’s Organic Guarantee system facilitates third party certification, development of organic standards and provides a guarantee of these standards and certifications. Their goal is that the world will adopt the principals of organic agriculture that can be achieved by leading, uniting and assisting the organic movement.
- OCIA – Organic Crop Improvement Association is a non-profit, member-owned organic certification organization. They provide organic certification as well as access to the global organic market. They also facilitate communication between researchers and farmers and education to local and global communities.
- Pro-Cert Organic Systems (formerly OCPP/ Pro-cert) is a national certifier of organic food products. In 1999 OCPP in Ontario and Pro-cert in Saskatchewan merged to form one national company. It now is accredited to the Canadian Organic Standard, USDA, Quebec Reference Organic Standard and many other world standards.
QAI – You may see other certified organic labels as well. For example, US-based Quality Assurance International (QAI) is also a third party certifier. QAI assures consumers that products carrying their label are produced at an organic farm that has met the required standards set by their specific program. QAI certifies Safeway organics, President’s Choice and other brands. In our opinion, their animal welfare standards are more general and thus not as high as COABC. However, they are also less costly than the provincial certifying programs so you may find more farms opt for this program to reduce their costs of production. Look for the blue Q on the carton.
- USDA – United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP) regulates the standards for organic certified products. It assures customers that the products they are purchasing have followed the programs standards throughout production and processing. USDA has also set standards for the importation of organic goods from around the world to ensure quality and reliability for the consumer.