Conventional vs Organic

TERMINOLOGY – Let me explain why it is such a BIG DEAL


Improper use of terminology is what stands behind the present chaos in understanding what modern food really is. Language not only expresses thought, it shapes thought. When inappropriate terminology is used or language is imprecise it becomes impossible to fully comprehend and/or discuss the subject at hand.

Word meanings should never be underestimated; they have a very significant impact on the credibility and integrity of products in the marketplace and as a result very strongly influence decision-making.

Terminology by definition is the body of specialized words relating to a particular subject. Specifically, to define means: “to set forth the meaning of; to determine or identify the essential qualities or meaning of; to determine or distinguish something.”

Modern farming and modern food are referred to as “conventional.” Such nomenclature is highly inappropriate. The terminology used to describe the current, modern farming methods and the foods that come from them should instead be based on clear definitions as found in standard dictionaries.

Here is how Webster’s defines the term “conventional”: “used and accepted by most people; usual or traditional; of a kind that has been around for a long time and is considered to be usual or typical; common and ordinary; not unusual.”

Furthermore, here is how Webster’s defines the term “traditional”: “beliefs or customs from one generation to another, an inherited, cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions, characteristic manner, method or style.”

Accordingly, “conventional” is synonymous and thus interchangeably used with “traditional,” which in the case of modern food is far cry from accurate. One should push back against this blatant distortion.

People make assumptions about modern food, its quality, the farming methods and processes, and the impact of these on health – all based primarily on their understanding of the terminology. And as stated before, it is the improper application of the terminology that the public has accepted as accurate and as a result accepts its products. Perhaps that is precisely why this language is used (actually misused) to distort, confuse and mislead consumers into mindless purchasing and consumption without giving it a second thought.

The correct terminology to define the dominant modern farming methods and modern food and its processing should include modern, chemical, artificial and experimental. Use of the term “conventional” synonymously with “traditional” provides automatic credibility for the modern, dominant chemical- laden and experimental food farming methods and its products. Each of these words connotes a high degree of credibility.

“Conventional” and the synonymous “traditional” terms should be reserved for organic farming methods and organic foods; the terminology would then reflect it accurately, as these are centuries old practices and methods that are heavily rooted in the traditions of farming and foods eaten by humans prior to the 1940’s “Green Revolution” and prior to the use of artificial fertilizers and other chemical compounds such as pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Modern farming methods and its products are only 75 years new, are commonly used and products commonly accepted; I believe in large part due to the cultural implications and the terminology used to identify it.

In fact, the misidentification (deliberate or not) of modern farming methods and modern food as conventional and traditional effectively hides the reality and the experimental nature of it. These familiar, safe sounding words “soften” the hard facts, remove the entire topic as a subject of discussion and separates it from the world of modern technology which in actuality forms its foundation.

This “soft” language roots these methods and products in humanity, conveys credibility and sanctions power to it, implying a proven safety record and integrity. Even more insidiously, it prevents people from questioning and understanding what stands behind it all, which renders wise decision-making and informed consent non-existent.

“Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about” – Benjamin Lee Whorf

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

OutSmart Cafe

The OutSmart Café’s physical locations, where the menu is designed considering the highest and best nutritional value – and the highest quality ingredients in recipes are used not just to taste great but to truly nourish. The educational aspect of the OutSmart Café’ so you know exactly what it is that stands behind each menu item; how it benefits your body and mind and as such empowers you to make the best – not ill informed -decisions.

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