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All Farming is Organic August 15, 2011


Image by Getty Images via @daylife

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau

I’m in trouble now. Yes, I stand by this statement, “All Farming is Organic.”

 Defined, “organic” means “Having properties associated with living organisms;” basically all plant and animal life.

 I especially like how Brian Dunning, host and producer of the podcast Skeptoid explains organic and specifically organic food. “Scientifically, the term ‘organic food’ is meaningless. It’s like saying a ‘human person.’ All food is organic. All plants and animals are organic. Traditionally, an organic compound is one produced by life processes; chemically, it’s any carbon-containing molecule with a carbon-hydrogen bond. Plastic and coal are organic [the process begins as a fundamental organic process], a diamond is not. So when we refer to organic food in such a way to exclude similar foods that are just as organic chemically, we’re outside of any meaningful scientific use of the word, and are using it as a marketing label.”

 So then, all farming is organic since all farming is growing or raising plants and/or animals.

This is big agriculture, the method is conventional; it's organic because this Arizona farmer is about to plant and raise a crop.

 Distinct methods of farming exist and in modern culture our distinct methods typically constitute the “organic” (labeled) method of farming and the “conventional” method of farming. But if “organic” simply means having properties associated with living organisms, then again all farming is organic.

If you’re free to have an “organic” discussion with me on this, chime in. Note, my blog’s ability to post comments allows living organisms (us) to interact. Now, THAT’s organic. :-)

Editor’s disclosure statement: As a representative of Arizona Farm Bureau, our agriculture members farm a vast array of produce and raise an abundance of agriculture animals. They use a variety of agriculture production methods on small, medium and large operations. I’ve appreciatively met hundreds of farmers and ranchers  in my lifetime (and often on their operations) and my ongoing observations confidently conclude 99.9% use high standards, adhere to the U.S.’s intense regulations (regardless of method of farming) and represent great dedication. American agriculture is in a class by itself.

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1. Kristen Sukalac - August 16, 2011

Thanks for this article. I work in agricultural communications and policy, and the co-opting of the word “organic” by a specific approach to produciton creates loads of confusion because the definition is so far from the general chemical meaning. Unfortunately, it’s probably too late to do anything about it. It’s even worse in other languages that refer to “biological” farming!

2. Battle of the Bugs: Declaring War on Pests in Conventional and Organic Farming | Julie's Fresh Air - August 22, 2011

[...] Second in a series on organics. The first Article is here. [...]