It's funny how sometimes you read something and it voices a feeling you've been having but which hasn't quite seeped into a fully-formed thought. When I read the interview with Monty Don in last saturday's Guardian his thoughts on the term 'organic' struck a cord. I realised that the term 'organic' was beginning to annoy me. I've been really surprised at the small minority of people who can't bear to hear 'organic'. There are a number of reasons why they are anti-organic (often they are fairly invested in the non-organic world). I don't share this horror, of course, However, I did realise that some of the shine is coming off the term organic for me. I'm not entirely happy with it. There are lots of words that are slightly imperfect for me as well: fashion, style, eco, green. They are never quite the right word, and that's only a handful. Ahh..the limitations of language.
So Monty Don is the new patron of the Soil Association and he was arguing or, maybe more like musing, on the word organic and its negative associations (middle class, expensive etc) and how 'sustainable' is a better word. I realised that I too am beginning to see organic in a very discretely tarnished way. I don't think it's a cure-all. It doesn't necessarily in fact mean sustainable. Some products which are certified organic are not necessarily great for the environment (for example beans from Kenya in January). We don't always know how 'fair trade' they are. There is a mass-manufactured side to organic production which I don't really like.
There are many issues: purity, impact on the environment, social impact, waste. Organic doesn't necessarily cover all of these. Sustainable, however does. It's a broader term. And, I think I like it.
Having said all this, I had a good weekend at the Soil Association Organic Food Festival in Bristol. I joined the Isle of Mull Weavers, helped them out and showed my work too. It was fun to see other organic textile & homewear folks as well as feast on lots of lovely food. Fortunately, my fears of encountering a load of large-scale organic producers and manufacturers were allayed. Most of the people were just like us; small-scale, passionate, interesting, local and, of course, sustainable.