What does it mean to be an organic mom? Organic is a popular buzzword these days. Everyone who is conscious and conscientious wants to be organic and live an organic lifestyle. Of course we do. Considering the state of the processed world we live in, it is only obvious that eventually we would begin to see the fallacy of our ways and want to get back to basics.
But the problem is this: Organic has become a trendy fad and a cliché. And the corporate giants are only too eager to put the organic label on things that are clearly not organic (candy, sugary cereals, processed foods, infant formula, crib sets, clothes, toys, cleaning products, bath products, makeup, etc.) Will someone please tell me exactly what is organic about this rainbow-colored plastic bath duck manufactured in China? Really. I’m dying to know.
And what’s more, within a certain segment of the mothering population, organic has become a bizarre status symbol. If you are not living according to the popular culture standards of what is organic, then you are not a good mom. What? You didn’t buy the organic goldfish crackers? You monster. How could you feed your children such rubbish?
Meanwhile, the true meaning of organic is being forgotten. Organic is about doing what is natural. This means that baking your own bread, even if you use high quality flour that is not labeled organic, is still more organic than buying a five-dollar loaf of Gluten-Free Organic Spelt Bread with a list of ingredients longer than the Declaration of Independence. This also means that using vinegar and baking soda to clean is more organic than buying an expensive bottle of Green Works Natural All Purpose Cleaner whose ingredients still manage to include such mysterious substances as nonionic surfactant alkyl polygulucoside and ethanol SDA-3C, both of which are completely incomprehensible to the average parent.
Being organic is not about stocking your cabinets and pantries with factory-produced products that are labeled organic. Being organic is about becoming educated about the world and how things are made. Being organic is about trying to leave the smallest footprint on the earth that we can. Being organic is about living life simply. Being organic is about assessing all the options and choosing what is most natural and realistic for your daily life. Being organic is about trusting your own instincts and feeling good about the mother you are, regardless of whether or not you fit into the culture’s current permutation of what is in vogue for parenting.
So I am here to encourage you and to help you to find your own inner organic. And maybe that means that you go ahead and buy the five-dollar Gluten-Free Organic Spelt Bread because you don’t have the time to make your own right now. Good for you for knowing your own limits! And maybe that means that you grow your own garden and make all your own natural cleaning products, even though you still use disposable diapers, because laundry is your decided enemy. Congratulations on setting realistic boundaries! And maybe that means that you decide to continue co-sleeping with your still nursing three-year-old, even though everyone in your organic mom’s group thinks you are insane and all have tiny babies who are sleeping through the night in their very own organic cribs with matching organic bedding sets. Good for you for being keen enough to realize that our culture’s over-obsession with independence and matching bedclothes has no relationship to what is natural or salubrious.
Organic is a fad. (Or at least the phony factory-produced representation of it that we can see in every store in America right now.) In ten years, it will go out of style and die a sad unpopular death like low-fat high-chemical frozen yogurt and high-waisted mom jeans. And something new will catch the public eye. But the decisions you make about how to raise your children now will impact them for the rest of their lives. Educate yourself and make your own decisions based on what is logical and realistic to you. Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. And find your own inner organic.