Organic: The Meaning and More

Organic

By now, you must have heard or read about some amazing organic food, products, and so on at least 10 times. Having organic products might be as mundane as having a tote bag. However, have you ever thought about what does the word “Organic” includes, what does it mean when something is organic and does organic makes a difference? Let us take a really close look into the idea of organic and what is included.

Organic (Blank)

When we think of organic products, the first thing that pops into people’s mind is organic food. Which makes sense, since organic food and organic farming have been around for quite a while. When you go grocery shopping, the word organic is plaster over many labels, signs, or the package of snacks and other food products. However, organic is not limited to food products only. In fact, you can find the word organic on beauty products, cleaning products, clothes and so on. Organic has become a very big marketing term and it makes sense because the organic market is extremely big. Here are some numbers comparing the market from 2020 to 2019, there is a significant difference.

Organic food sales hit $50.1 billion, up 4.6 percent. Organic non-food sales totaled just over $5 billion, up a strong 9.2 percent. Both sectors easily outpaced the general market growth rate of around 2 percent for total food sales and of just 3 percent for total non-food sales

(Organic Industry Survey).
It makes sense that corporates want to cash in on this market, it is extremely lucrative. However, with that being said, many corporations end up abusing their power, letting their greed take over with misleading or fraudulent claims. However, all those juicy details are for another post. So, what is the common denominator between these non-food and food organic products?
Let us take a look at the definition organic.

What does organic really mean?

It is hard to say what exactly organic means because depending on who you ask the term has different definitions. If we look plainly at the word’s dictionary definition, then the definition is

1. Related to or derived from living matters
2. (of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents

(Oxford Dictionary).

There are more definitions depending on the field, biology, chemistry, and so on. Also keep in mind that the pesticides, fertilizers, and chemicals that are mentioned are referring to synthetic or manmade. Even in organic agriculture, there are some pesticides, fertilizers, and chemicals being used, just lower dosage or much simpler forms and methods.

The second definition is one that most people would consider to be the definition of organic when they go shopping. Where the vegetables, fruits, or materials (cotton, hemp) are grown without the use of chemicals or genetically modified. And that animals are also being fed with organic crops running freely with green grass and so on. Many local farmers adhere to strict regulations of organic farming and providing healthy soil or space for animals for many beneficial factors. There are also some bad apples that look for loopholes or just don’t adhere. It can be said that the word Organic has somewhat lost its true definition and purpose. Fortunately, in some countries, there are regulations and ways to makes sure that the item is truly organic.
If you are interested in learning about organic’s meaning, I got the perfect article!

Does Organic make a difference?

A woman farming organically
After hundreds of years of natural, organic farming, however, due to the large demand for food and the development of science and technology, farms started using chemicals and synthetics pesticides. Pesticides and chemicals provide more yield each harvest which is extremely important, however, there are some downsides with conventional farming. It is said that with synthetic pesticides and chemicals, the natural properties inside the soil are destroyed and that there is some connection of conventional farming to climate change. Depending on the type of chemical that is being used there might also be some health risk and damage to the ecosystem and so on. However, upon deeper and thorough research, it seems that depending on the crop, and which issues you are looking at, sometimes non-organic/conventional farming might be better for the earth. However, many organic farmers have pointed out that it is more than just the chemicals, but it is more of a lifestyle, a way of living (Held).

So let us take a closer look at what are some benefits of organic farming:

  • Lower pesticides residues
  • Less preservatives = Fresher
  • Better for the farmers, less harsh chemicals they are dealing with on a daily basis
  • Organically grown meat contains fewer growth hormones, antibiotics, and so on. The animals are stronger on their own and are not fed GMO crops.

While purchasing organic products is not a viable option for everyone, but you still want to do something for the environment and farmers, it is recommended that you try to support local farmers. Supporting local farmers is the most ethical choice, less transportation = less carbon emissions, supporting the local community, and definitely fresher products.

More than just food

As mentioned before, organic products are more than just food. In fact, there are also organic skincare, makeup, clothes, and cleaning products. The fact that the word organic has become like a marketing term, means there are a lot of different kinds of organic products. While many are doing good, there are some companies that take advantage of the big market and money that it can bring, so as consumers, it is best to understand what organic means.

Conclusion

Shop Organic!
The word organic is often used and can be seen in almost every supermarket, and people have a general idea of what the word organic means. However, the excessive use of the word organic has resulted in confusion about the meaning of the word. However, by reading this article, you should have a basic knowledge of Organic. The meaning of organic, the wide range of products there are available. Also, some insight on if choosing organic can make a difference. Please remember that sometimes the word organic is used as a marketing term, it is highly recommended that one do some research first before buying. A great way would be reading our articles, where we will go into each topic and provide you a deep dive about organic food, organic cottons and other ethical topics and issues. Hope you enjoy what you read, and if you are interested in finding out more about other organic topics, feel free to explore our articles.

Resources:
Held, Lisa Elaine. “Is Organic Food Over?” Eater. Eater, 03 Jan. 2019. Web. 24 Aug. 2020. <https://www.eater.com/2019/1/3/18165140/organic-food-definition-natural-gmo-controversy>.
“Organic: Definition of Organic by Oxford Dictionary on Lexico.com Also Meaning of Organic.” Web. 24 Sept. 2020.
“Organic Industry Survey.” OTA. Web. 24 Sept. 2020. <https://ota.com/organic-market-overview/organic-industry-survey>.
               
Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!