Over on The Brew Site today, the topic is "Organic Beer" (it’s The Session, which is a net-wide beer blogging event where anyone with a blog—not just beer bloggers—can write about the given theme) and while I was writing a review of Deschutes Brewery’s Green Lakes Organic Ale, I had originally inserted a bit about "organic" and what it (as a term) means to me.

However, it felt a bit out-of-place over there, so I’m reprinting it here instead, largely because I like what I wrote well enough that I didn’t want to lose it, and also because it fits in better with my "Growing Up in Central Oregon" series that I sporadically write here on this blog.

Here’s what I wrote on the topic of "organic":

With respect to people like Chris [O’Brien, of the Beer Activist blog hosting The Session this month] who are genuinely trying to make the world we live in a better place, if I’m being totally honest, I tend to take a suspicious view of things labeled "organic." Not that I think organic is bad, or denotes something lesser than "normal"… rather I think it’s because nowadays it seems to have been co-opted as a marketing term, which is opposite of the way I grew up.

When my parents moved here to Central Oregon back in the mid-seventies (I was three), they wanted to live as self-sustainingly as possible. To that end they bought five acres of rural land upon which large vegetable gardens were grown and cows and chicken were raised. We had fresh milk and eggs every day, beef and chicken that we raised and butchered, fruits and vegetables grown in the garden, and all of it was done completely organically—no chemicals, no hormones, nothing like that. Only manure and compost for the gardens, locally-bought hay for the cows (along with what grass we grew in the pasture), natural foods for the chickens, all like that.

In a word, organic.

Only we never called it "organic" or had to verbalize it—it just was. Growing up like that shaped my view of things, and to this day the "organic" way of doing things is, to me, just the natural, logical way these things should be done. Having to refer to "organic" as a special designation therefore just seems to me to be… well, backwards, I guess.

Honestly, I don’t intend to sound high-and-mighty on the subject, and it’s very possible that I’m speaking from some fundamental ignorance on the movement.

But there you go. To me, labeling something "organic" as a special designation somehow actually seems more artificial. Or maybe more contrived… either way, I may have just opened myself up for a flaming.


2 Replies to “Organic”

  1. No, not flaming, just another point of view. What was known as "normal" back when organic *was* normal now has a special designation only because what "normal" is now is fertilized with petrochemicals.

    Um, does that make sense? I need coffee.

    Yes, using the term "organic" is a marketing ploy in some ways, but for those of us who enjoyed eating fresh off the farm but now live in suburban Bend, it says "this was grown in a healthy environment" and I prefer it, personally. I will pay a premium for organic foods because I find they taste better and believe them to be healthier.

    As for chickens… I plan on raising a few this year in my back yard. (fingers crossed that coons or cats or whatever won’t eat them all and barking dogs won’t drive them crazy). If you have any advice, let me know.

  2. The thing is that organic is how it should be, and I wish our food supply came from places where pesticides weren’t sprayed regularly and cows and chickens weren’t given hormones or antibiotics as a matter of course. That’s not the case, and I think we’re poorer for it. I do prefer organic, not because it’s catchy or trendy, but because it’s how things should be.

    Know where I can find a half a butchered cow?

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