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ORGANIC PEA PROTEINS vs. NON-ORGANIC PEA PROTEINS

organic farming

It's an obvious fact. Organic produce is more expensive than non-organic produce, not by a slight difference but sometimes by many folds. 


There is a common misconception that this stark difference in cost lies within the certification process, which is costly both in time and money. Such a notion is lacking. The real hurdles actually lie in many parts, from the process of converting the farmland from conventional to organic, to the maintaining practices of organic farming. The location of the farms play the key role in determining the cost of organic farming. Our peas are from Canada, not only because Canada is the largest producer of yellow field peas, but also because Canada's climate and soil property supports organic farming, thus reducing the cost burden for farmers. 


Read more below to understand the hurdles of organic farming and determine for yourself if they justify the high ticket cost:


HURDLE 1: COSTLY CONVERSION OF FARMLAND FROM CONVENTIONAL TO ORGANIC

The conversion of farmland from conventional to organic takes about 3 years on average to purify the land. During this time, the farmers give up the use of chemical weed killers such as Roundup®, and they eliminate genetically modified seed crops from their field rotation. Yields during these conversion seasons are painfully low. 

But for the farmers that persevere the hardship of conversion, the result is worthwhile. The environment in this region of Canada is naturally supportive of organic farming. Canada’s prolonged extreme cold with frost depth exceeding 50 inches below the ground preserves key nutrients in the soil. The frozen soils also help eliminate the survival rate of insects, supporting true organic farming. 

HURDLE 2: WEED CONTROL IN ORGANIC FARMING

Once the land is successfully converted, the greatest challenge to organic farming is weed control. In fact, the pea fields are under constant threat of being pushed out by the naturally dominant such as barley grains and rapeseed plants. Our farmers suppress weeds by selecting high-quality, disease-free seeds and by increasing seeding rates. Seed quality and plant nutrient uptake are not affected by seeding rate and are not a constraint to increasing seeding rates.  

HURDLE 3: LOWER HARVEST YIELD

Farmers rely on pea crops to fix nitrogen for their other crops.

As hot temperatures and dry soils during the later vegetative and early reproductive stages are especially detrimental for N-fixation, most farmers start seeding field pea into cold semi-frozen soil conditions during the cold month. However, the cold soil induces seed rot, which results in significant stand loss, weed control problems and low harvest yield later in the growing season. To overcome this hurdle, most farmers resort to using fungicide seed treatments. This practice of seeding pea crops during the cold months is a double-edged sword, the trade-off for benefiting the nitrogen fixation ability of pea crops is the use of harmful chemicals. Our farmers wait until mid April when the soil is completely thawed to seed. This reduces the annual profit as the later rotation crops will not have harvests as abundant as those with pea crops seeded in cold months. But the result is a higher quality, more nutrient dense pea harvest.


HURDLE 4: LOWER PROTEIN CONTENT

Organically grown crops typically have a lower protein content than conventionally grown crops, which has about 25%-33% protein content compared to 18%-25% in organically grown crops. This is due to a more limited supply of nitrogen in organic crops. In conventional farming, nitrogen can easily be supplied to the soil in the form of synthetic fertilizers, but in organic farming where the use of such fertilizers are restricted, our farmers must supply nitrogen to crops from harder-to-find natural sources. Because nitrogen plays a critical role in the formation of protein molecules, a lack of nitrogen could directly contribute to reduced protein content. The result is more organic yellow peas are needed to extract the same amount of pure protein as required by non-organic yellow peas.