Just what does 'organic' mean?...

Discussion in 'Organic Gardening' started by The Hollyberry Lady, Jun 13, 2009.

  1. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Organic is a word that means different things to different people. It is often used in advertising copy to convince consumers that a particular product is natural and healthful. The claim may even be true, but to a gardener, 'organic' often refers to methods of growing plants without using synthetic fertilizers, manufactured herbicides, or artificially fabricated pesticides.

    Organic gardening is a whole philosophy that follows as closely as possible nature's own practices. Some people would define it as a biologically based, rather than chemically based, way of sowing and growing. In organic gardening, fertilizers and pest controls are made up of biological rather than chemical materials.

    A plant doesn't care whether the nitrogen it uses came out of an industrial factory or a cow. To the plant, nitrogen is nitrogen. But the 'vehicle' for the nitrogen does make a difference to the soil. Mineral-based fertilizers add nutrients, but do not help the soil structure, and in fact may harm it. Biologically based fertilizers also contain active organisms that improve and strengthen the soil's ability to support plant life. With the addition of organic fertilizers, soil structure is actually enhanced: worms are fed, microorganisms are preserved, and fungi are stimulated into vigor, all of which lead to healthy soil.

    Cool, huh?

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  2. bedixon

    bedixon Active Member

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    So true, the word "organic" has become such a buzz word - reminds me of "lite" beer, "fat free" candy - the marketing people seize on the opportunity to sell a product and the next thing you know we're buying organic potato chips thinking they must be good for us.
    Michael Pollen said in one of his books that the term has divided into big O "Organic" and little o "organic" - as soon as Walmart figured out it would sell, and industrial agriculture turned to Organic, the mental image of plants being lovingly tended by human hands in soil amended with compost from the barnyard is replace by diesel tractors farting fumes as they harvest the huge monocrop fields of "Organic" crops. Depending on the state or province, the label "certified organic" will vary in definition. And, who was lobbying to relax the regulations defining the term also plays a role. So the label "certified organic" means less to me now than it did many years ago. If I can, I'll buy veggies locally from the farmers market or my neighbor's roadside stand, or better yet grow them myself.
    I like your point about the plant not caring about where it gets its nitrogen, but the soil does. Soil is so important! It provides so much more than the NPK provided by chemicals, like a synergistic effect that we are only beginning to understand. Someone told me the other day that you'd have to eat approx 28 carrots today to get the same nutrition one carrot provided 50 years ago, the soil today is so depleted from industrial agricultural practices. Not sure how factual that is, but I don't have a problem believing it!
     
  3. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Excellent post bedixon! Loved your comment about the organic potato chips! No kidding. You make some terrific points.

    Also, I totally agree with your view about food not being as nutritional - but do you notice not as flavorful too? Produce sometimes tastes like chalk, anymore! I tend to think it is because of the soil depletion as well.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2010
  4. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor

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    It was actually one of the first things I noticed when I moved to Ecuador. The food is so much more flavourful! Here, nearly the entire country practices big-o Organic farming, and that's because with the exception of bananas, we have no factory farms. All of the vegetables, for example, eaten by this country are grown on family farms, in soil tended by human hands, and with a bit of fertilizer from the cows or pigs, and a flock of chickens for bug control. I had forgotten, I suppose, what a carrot was supposed to taste like - the ones of my childhood were like this, but that was some time ago.
     
  5. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    I can only imagine how flavorful the produce is there Lorax - I am jealous!
    It's half the reason why I grow my own veggies - sick of eating bland, flavorless, chalk-like, truck ripened vegetables, Yuck!

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