At what point did the word organic become the adjective in front of food? In the same breath why is Fair Trade in front of clothing as is sustainable in front of farming? Why and when did this become the norm? Let us change the adjective…
It is coming into the peak of summer here in the northern hemisphere which means blue skies, the great outdoors and of course the welcomed 18 hours a day – or more – of sunlight. The one thing I look forward to the most is the fresh seasonal fruits that are locally grown. Lately as I hunt through my local markets for the best buy, I cannot help but notice the labels on the organic produce versus the labels on the normal produce – or rather – the chemical food. This has been swirling around in my head for quite some time and I wonder to myself: what would happen if we were to change the adjective? Before I go on let me backtrack a little with some history in agriculture and pesticides…
The practice of agriculture first began about 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia. 
It was clear that the farmed crops would suffer from pests and diseases causing a large loss in yield with the ever-present possibility of famine for the population. Even today with advances in agricultural sciences losses due to pests and diseases range from 10-90%, with an average of 35 to 40%, for all potential food and fibre crops. There was thus a great incentive to find ways of overcoming the problems caused by pests and diseases. 
The first recorded use of insecticides is about 4500 years ago by Sumerians who used sulphur compounds to control insects and mites. 
Up until the 1940s inorganic substances, such as sodium chlorate and sulphuric acid, or organic chemicals derived from natural sources were still widely used in pest control. 
The growth in synthetic pesticides accelerated in the 1940s with the discovery of the effects of DDT, BHC, aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, chlordane, parathion, captan and 2,4-D. These products were effective and inexpensive with DDT being the most popular.  Some sources consider the 1940s and 1950s to have been the start of the “pesticide era.” 
Throughout most of the 1950s, consumers and most policy makers were not overly concerned about the potential health risks in using pesticides. Food was cheaper because of the new chemical formulations and with the new pesticides there were no documented cases of people dying or being seriously hurt by their “normal” use.  However this began to change in the 1960’s when it was discovered DDT was preventing many fish-eating birds from reproducing, which was a serious threat to biodiversity. 
By the 20th century, organic farming began in reaction to the rapidly changing farming practices. By the 1990’s the demand for organic produce was demanding organically managed farmland to grow at 8.3% per annum. 
Now days the demand for organic produce is continuing to rise. Organic Monitor estimates organic food & drink sales reached almost 63 billion US dollars in 2011 with the market expanding by 170 percent since 2002. 
With this all in mind, it is easy to see why the word organic was placed in front of food – the trend had to make a noise and differentiate itself from the norm of chemical food. But this still leaves me with the question: what would happen if we were to change the adjective?
We no longer live in a world of just accepting – we now live in a generation of questioning everything. We are far more mindful of what we put into our bodies, on our bodies, in our homes, our gardens and just about everything. Thank goodness we are even standing up and voicing our opinions about the wellbeing of the source of the produce. So, let us change the adjective.
If you went to your local market and were given the choice to purchase food or chemical food, what would you buy? What about if you went to your local high street and were give the option to buy clothes versus slave labour clothes? What would you chose? My list of examples go on but I think you get my point.
Change the adjective. I would be interested to see the outcome. Wouldn’t you?