Organic: What Does It Mean?

“Organic” it seems to be one of the latest buzzwords out there. There is much debate on whether it is healthier, better for the environment and actually makes a difference.

Let’s put all of that aside and talk about what the word means because I think there is some confusion on that.

When you say “organic” the first thing that people think of are snobs that are buy over priced food because of a sticker. What does the “organic” really mean though?

Organic gardening, organic food, organic cleaning products. What does all of it mean?  When something is certified organic, it means that it went through the USDA’s certification process. What is that process? Here is how the USDA defines it. Good luck attempting to decipher whatever that means.

For most of us, it takes on a different meaning. There is not a one-size fits all definition of “organic.”

For this post, I am going to share what gardening and living organically means to me.

Having an exact definition of such a word is difficult. There are so many things that factor into it that we just can’t control.

The first example that springs to my mind is our surrounding environment. We don’t have an option whether we want to breathe or not if we want to survive. I live in Los Angeles, one of the most polluted cities in the world. Does that make me or what I’m doing any less organic?

Another thing that most of us have limited control over is our water. We get it from the tap. We can buy filter systems to clean out some of the excess though.

We can control some aspects, but not others. If we tried to control everything, we’d drive ourselves crazy.

Having complete control over every aspect is impossibly. That’s why for me, it’s about doing the best that you can do given the circumstance that you are facing. That’s what organic living means to me.

When people ask me if I’m gardening organically I tell them, “yes.” There are some people that say because I’m using plastic containers and soda bottles that it’s not safe and not organic.

Yes, I am using plastic containers, but they are from the containers with the number 5 on the bottom which supposedly don’t leach BPAs. The water I use is filtered, but I put it into a plastic container to pour.

Since, I’m growing in containers, I have opted to buy organic soil. What about the people that grow the traditional way in the ground?

Is their soil organic even if they don’t use sprays and pesticides? I’d bet that chemicals and toxins exist in their soil from the water and environment.

This might all sound disempowering and sad, it shouldn’t be though. We all have the power to control certain things. We can opt not to use toxic fertilizers and sprays. Worry about what you can control and do your best with those.

This is how I define organic gardening and living. It’s anything that I am actually doing and have control over. I can’t control the air around me (yet).

What does organic mean to you?

Mike Lieberman
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