Humans have an amazing ability to take something that exists, and twist and manipulate it into something very very different. At times, this can be a creative process, a sculpture or carving that emerges from a lump of matter. But often, it is a cognitive and psychological process. One that begins with what already exists, often can occur without the realization of those involved, and ends with what seems to be a new invention, despite it being cloaked in another name. An organic process….
1. relating to or derived from living matter, relating to or denoting compounds containing carbon (other than simple binary compounds and salts) and chiefly or ultimately of biological origin.
2. (of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals.
3. relating to a bodily organ or organs, (of a disease) affecting the structure of an organ.
4. denoting or characterized by a harmonious relationship between the elements of a whole, characterized by gradual or natural development.
Yes, Organic. What a wonderful concept! Whether in the context of food grown naturally and without coercion or “unnatural forces”, or in reference to a process humans undergo to develop something new without regulations and enforcement, being organic is good. In all it’s definitions, it comes from what already is, it is about living, growing matter (rather than man made technology) and therefore is the natural way.
But somewhere along the way, Organic became something you could sell. Something you could label. Something that people could use as an identity. A way to judge people and things. A way to make money.
Being Organic is actually very hard to define. To be certified organic in Australia requires the company to:
“grow or manufacture a product free from synthetic pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics”
But what does that really even mean? And are there levels of organic… can you be partly natural? Interestingly, while many attach Organic with more healthy, it does not mean lower in sugar, fat or salt, as all of these can be natural ingredients. So often, “organic” muffins for example, are still MUFFINS!!! Cake in a small round container :-)
In the world today, there are all sorts of tribes, and hierarchies. One is the “organic” human – the most visible being the female shopping in a small organic supermarket, with a food bill at least twice the national average, in active wear. The capacity to be “organic” today often requires money, and this seems to go against the basis of what organic is – natural, of the earth, and surely for everyone. That the world has got to the point where natural things cost more money is both concerning, and sad. And yet, it may be too late. And on the flipside, if we are honest about the requirements to feed the modern population - 7.2 billion today, projected to increase by 1 billion over the next 12 years and reach 9.6 billion by 2050 – we may not be able to obtain food security without continuing to develop technology to grow and provide food. So Organic doesn’t just become expensive, it may become unfeasible.
In the meantime, for some, being organic has become a mantle. Whether it be what they put in their body, or how they create a project, a performance, it can become a crutch from which to measure their behaviours, or judge others. It can become elite. And controlling. Which hardly seems organic at it’s core.
Don't get me wrong, I wish that we had more opportunities to explore and engage with the world, without too much intervention. But it seems somewhere along the way, we intervened and made the word “Organic” something quite put on.