How do you feel about spots on your apples? In the early 1970s, Jodi Mitchell told us she preferred them to the DDT that was quickly gaining popularity as a pesticide in commercial farming.
Today, as a reaction to the hormones and other additives, pesticides and other chemicals, and genetic modification that are changing the face of the human-food relationship, a movement toward organic food is becoming broadly popular.
Organic farming is by no means limited to produce. Organic options are widely available for just about anything you put in your fridge or pantry: coffee and tea, chocolate, dairy (including milk, butter, and cheese), grains (breads, pasta, and cereals), seafood, meat, and meat alternatives (like tofu, legumes, and nuts), and even wine and beer, just to get you started.
Next, you can go organic in your bathroom by choosing all-natural soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and cosmetics. Organic certification even exists on clothing, furniture, gardening supplies, and bedding and other textiles.
As the availability of organics has spread, however, so has the controversy. Some question the validity of organic farming as an environmental movement, citing things like lower productivity and unchanged transportation and energy needs as a case against organics.
Another problem with the organic label is that it's easily faked or, more accurately, difficult to verify just by looking at your lettuce. Make sure whatever you're buying bears an official endorsement from an accredited, government-recognized organics organization.
Many critics also suggest that the price gap between organic and conventionally-produced goods reflects more of an economic avarice than a truly higher production cost in other words, that some companies or vendors will charge more for something with an organic label because they know they can.
As with everything else, you need to decide for yourself where you stand on this issue. Combining organic with initiatives like fair trade or local farming is a good way to increase the good you're doing.