Monday, June 16, 2008

So you want to live organic...but what does that mean?!

The American Heritage Science Dictionary defines organic as:

1. Involving organisms or the products of their life processes.
2. Relating to chemical compounds containing carbon, especially hydrocarbons.
3. Using or produced with fertilizers or pesticides that are strictly of animal or vegetable origin.
4. Relating to or affecting organs or an organ of the body. An organic disease is one in which there is a demonstrable abnormality on physical examination, laboratory testing, or other diagnostic studies.

That seems pretty straightforward, but as with much of the new "green-speak", it loses alot in the translation. Once every ten years, the Merriam-Webster dictionary is updated. Their 11th edition for 2003 included some 10,000 new words along with 100,000 new meanings to words already existing and some 225,00 revised definitions. According to M-W, the adjective organic dates back to the 14th century and its original meaning was instrumental.

So now where does that leave us, in the search for organic meaning? I tend toward American Heritage's definition #1 above. We are living, carbon-based, organisms designed to live in a natural environment. Yes, we are adaptable, but our modern technology has forced all organisms on this planet to adapt at a rate that is unnatural. Extinctions are not from the process of natural selection, but from man-made forces.

With the exception of those peoples who have not been corrupted by "civilization" we are the only species on this planet that does not live within the limitations of our natural environment. As living organisms, humans are at the same risk of extinction as other species. The real difference is we will be responsible for the demise of our own kind. Contrary to being a "higher life form", we are as dumb as a box of rocks (sorry, rocks) when it comes to living in harmony with our environment. has the top 10 reasons to support organic in the 21st century. They all make sense to people who want a future that doesn't involve gas masks, and a contaminated food chain. What real solutions can be offered to the growing list of environmental and societal woes?

1. Find a balance. Consumption should not exceed sustainable availability.

2. Put our formidable technology to work for the good. If we can think it, we can do an environmentally responsible way.

3. Clean up our mess. We know where it is and what it is. It's time to stop the finger-pointing and clean it up. See #2 above.

4. Learn from the past. We need to stop repeating our mistakes. Anyone who is curious about living within our "environmental means" can talk to a Native American, an Australian aborigine, a Maori elder, or the Jaguar people of the Amazon. Civilized man has managed to wipe out a great many of these people, but there are still some remaining that know the old traditions.

Bottom line...there is no EASY button for this issue. We are 6 billion (and counting) in number, and every individual effort is significant. Educate yourself, and take action. Our future depends on it.

Until next time...become the change you imagine.

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