What does organic mean? The philosophical characterization of “organic” agriculture
In the simplest terms, organic growing or farming is based on maintaining a living soil with a diverse population of micro and macro soil organisms. A common phrase used to characterize organic growing that will be explained in detail is “feeding the soil, not the plant”. Organic matter is maintained in the soil through the addition of compost, animal manure, and green manures and the avoidance of excess tillage and nitrogen applications. Another common aspect of organic agriculture is growing plants without synthetic fertilizers or pest control chemicals.
On a broader scale, it seems there are some that perceive organic growing as requiring some spiritual or religious commitment. While this is far from the truth, it is true that many people committed to organic agriculture are committed to some important social principles as well. These usually include the desire for organic agriculture to be economically, environmentally and socially sustainable and based on integrated production systems. Most people committed to organic production for social and environmental reasons, as opposed to economic opportunists, expect to be operating within and as part of the ecological system or web of life as opposed to dominating and subjugating the system. There often is an emphasis on using locally available and renewable resources, marketing locally, and the quality of food is also seen as a key part of personal health and wholeness.