That's what Kenneth Chang is wondering over at the New York Times' TierneyLab blog. Does organic mean:
a) related to an organ of the body
b) natural, without artificial ingredients, grown without chemical fertilizers
c) the chemistry of carbon-based molecules derived from living things
d) all of the above
The problem is that the answer is d, all of the above. Chang is irked by the word's use in chemistry. By definition, all plastics are organic. Instead, he suggests carbon-based.
But we're more concerned by the 27,000 words of federal legislation around organic food, especially as we've been seeing "organic" applied to home goods, such as towels, rugs... even furniture.
Is there a simple, concise way to define "organic" when it comes to food and furniture? How would you go about the problem?