I was in the checkout lane at Costco yesterday, and I had some organic foods in my cart. As the cashier was ringing up my produce, he asked me what the difference was between ‘organic’ berries and normal berries.
Now, the checkout lane isn’t the ideal setting for a long conversation, so I just gave a casual response about less pesticides, trying my best not to leap onto the nearest soapbox.
He said that he noticed everyone is buying ‘organic’ everything these days, and he just didn’t understand what the fuss was about… Why should we buy this new ‘organic’ stuff, and what’s wrong with normal food?
I can see where he’s coming from, and that got me thinking… How did conventional farming become the new ‘normal’?
If anything, organic food should be ‘normal’ and conventional food should have some other qualitative title. It seems to me like we have done this whole labeling thing backwards.
Food was never labeled ‘organic’ before agricultural chemicals came into play. It was just food, and all food was organic by default.
Then pesticides silently entered the scene. There were no new labels announcing the arrival of new agricultural chemicals.
I imagine that if there were, they might not have caught on so quickly.
When faced with the decision to buy ‘Normal Apples’, or ‘Pesticide Apples’… eh. I assume that most people would stick with the ‘Normal Apples’ that they know and trust.
But that’s not how it happened.
Instead, farmers started using agricultural chemicals, and never communicated that change to the consumer.
When we finally caught on that there were some different farming practices going on, we started using the term ‘organic’ to differentiate between the food that has been exposed to chemicals and the food that was grown naturally.
The fact that organic food got the extra adjective made it seem like some new product on the market.
The choice became ‘Regular Food’, or ‘Organic Food’… and most people thought, “Ehhh.. I’ll stick with the ‘Regular’ (chemical-laden) food that I know and trust.”
And now eating organic food seems like a new fad, when the reality is that it’s literally as old as dirt. If anything, conventional produce is the “new” item that we should be skeptical of here.