The long-awaited Canadian Organic Products Regulations take effect on July 1 across Canada. Manitoba Harvest is a pioneering organic hemp foods company that will be celebrating this important occasion at their certified organic processing facility in Winnipeg. Organic certification is the public’s guarantee that products meet robust standards, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is charged with enforcing the regulations.
Eating organic foods such as Manitoba Harvest’s organic shelled hemp seed, organic protein powder, organic hemp oil and their award-winning Hemp Bliss organic hempmilk is important because it reduces exposure to toxic and persistent pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers that are used in most conventional food production. Organic farming protects the environment, is more energy-efficient, and mounting scientific evidence shows greater levels of nutrients in organically grown produce and grains, when compared to conventionally grown products.
Even in today’s challenging financial climate, sales of organic products, including organic hemp foods, continue to grow. “More people than ever are concerned about the health of their loved ones, the health of the planet, and the health of small farms where much of the organic farming growth is taking place,” says Mike Fata, President and co-founder of Manitoba Harvest. “They are aware that ‘organic’ is a healthier lifestyle for everyone and is worth their commitment and investment. In particular, parents of young children are trying to start their kids off right and give them the best chance to be healthy and thrive, and organic agriculture offers that opportunity to minimize exposure to chemicals,” adds Fata, whom’s company is an active member of Organic Trade Association .
Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils (www.manitobaharvest.com) is one of the fastest growing private companies in Canada. Their line of organic hemp foods will be emblazoned with the new Canada Organic Seal that was released today. Products that are 95% organic or more can use the new seal. Products that contain 70-95% organic ingredients can only identify organic content and the percentage in the ingredients panel. Canada and the U.S. have signed the world’s first organic equivalency agreement, accepting each other’s standards and enforcement systems as equal. There are only minor differences, and farmers and food companies won’t have to certify twice to sell in both markets.
“The most significant ‘organic’ challenge we face is the stabilization of supply and demand for organic hemp seed,” says Fata. “We think that the new Canadian Organic Products Regulations will help solidify the marketplace, and with the government support, it will help elevate the awareness and profile of organic foods in the eyes of consumers, retailers, farmers and other businesses,” adds Fata. “Our company helped to get hemp farming going again in Canada in 1998, and we have seen that it has been a challenge for the agricultural infrastructure to stabilize and establish a steady balance between supply and demand. We try to neutralize this factor by working very closely with our farmers – so close that many of the farmers that supply us are shareholders in our company, and that bond helps us address supply challenges, and helps them too,” says Fata. “Over the past decade we have supported many Manitoba farmers by purchasing organic hemp seed from them,” adds Fata.
Since 1998, dedication to sustainable agriculture has been a key part of Manitoba Harvest’s success and the company is thrilled that demand for organic hemp seed is taking off. “Hemp farming is sustainable agriculture at its best,” says Fata. Hemp is naturally pest-resistant so pesticides are not used, and because hemp plants grow rapidly and close together, they crowd out weeds and don’t need herbicides. Hemp is also a soil-building plant that is excellent for crop rotation. Its strong roots anchor the soil to prevent erosion and cultivation generates virtually no waste and its byproducts are commercially useful.
Manitoba Harvest was honored with the 2006 Socially Responsible Business Award at the Natural Products Expo East trade show in Baltimore, Maryland for their work pioneering sustainable organic hemp agriculture in North America. "It is the support from, and leadership demonstrated by dynamic companies like Manitoba Harvest that help propel the organic industry forward," says Matthew Holmes, Managing Director of the Organic Trade Association Canada (http://www.ota.com/otacanada.html).
Hemp is hot, and part of the allure for consumers is the eco-friendly aspect of sustainable hemp agriculture. According to the data from marketplace data leader SPINs, hemp grocery sales grew in the sampled stores by 42% in 2008, and the Hemp Industries Association estimates the total 2008 retail value of North American hemp food, vitamin and body care product sales to be between $100 million and $120 million. Foods such as hemp that provide Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are hot because medical evidence demonstrating their health benefits continues to grow. Health-savvy consumers are also finding that in addition to being a nutritional powerhouse, hemp foods have a great flavor and gourmet appeal.
Nutrition experts tout hemp due to its balanced concentration of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids, strong digestible protein profile, plentiful fiber, and abundance of vitamins and minerals. Hemp foods are the richest vegetable source of Omega 3 & 6. Hemp also contains all of the essential amino acids and has an overall protein content that is comparable to soy beans and higher than that found in nuts, other seeds, meats, dairy products, fish and poultry. Hemp foods offer potential benefits associated with the prevention or attenuation of many of the leading health conditions that challenge people in North America including diabetes, cancer, lupus, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, hormone imbalance, depression and hypertension. The role of essential fatty acids in human growth and development, as well as their role in diseases like coronary heart disease, are hot research areas.
About Manitoba Harvest
Founded in 1998, Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils is the largest vertically integrated hemp food manufacturer in the world. The company mission is to create the healthiest hemp foods, to educate the public about healthy lifestyle choices and to support sustainable and organic agriculture. Manitoba Harvest produces cold-pressed Hemp Oil, Shelled Hemp Seed, Hemp Seed Butter and a line of Hemp Protein Powders at their new, certified organic state-of-the-art facility. They also produce Hemp Bliss® - the award-winning and first-ever line of organic non-dairy hempmilks. In addition to their own popular brand of hemp foods, Manitoba Harvest supplies many other leading consumer brands with nutraceutical and functional hemp food ingredients.
In February 2009, Manitoba Harvest partnered with Renewable Choice Energy to offset 100% of their facility's electricity with wind power offsets, and all of their facility's natural gas usage through carbon offsets. The program demonstrates Manitoba Harvest's strong commitment to sustainability, their support for wind power and renewable energy, and their dedication toward the fight against global climate change. To learn more, please visit www.manitobaharvest.com.