But, after all, the word (in its commercial sense) simply means that the raw materials going into the thing on the shelf has not come into contact with any of the plethora of artificial fertilisers, treatments and other farm products that modern farming increasingly relies on to churn out the maximum amount of food or raw material. There have been debates about whether it is worth eating organic — although most of us accept that, if you can afford to, it is — and there is greater still suspicion amongst some over the ‘organic’ claims of soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, cotton buds and so forth.
So it seems that we are largely agreed that there at least some benefits to eating organic. We are less sure about ‘washing organic’ or ‘giving your ears a bit of a clean organic’. So — what about wearing organic? Organic cotton t-shirts, pants, socks and trousers have all appeared in greater and greater numbers on our shelves of late — often at greater and greater prices, too. But is there anything to be said for them?
One thing we need to remember is that organic cotton may still have been subject to plenty of decidedly inorganic substances and processes after being picked. Take pyjamas — organic full-boby garments of the sort we wear at night would surely be the most health-benificial if there really is anything to be said for organic clothing generally. Does paying a premium for your childrens pyjamas to be made of organic materials (usually cotton) make any real difference? Perhaps there are a little less of the ‘nasties’ in the fibres of the garments — but then, surely, the difference would be far less than the difference between cotton and synthetic garbs?
Another note of caution to those thinking of spending that bit extra on organic PJs is that there is definitely something to be said for the suspicious argument that this is a marketing fad. Of course parents would like their and their childrens PJs to be as ‘nasties free’ as possible, so the offer of ‘100% organic cotton childrens sleepware’ has a certain amount of appeal to it. But surely, if there really was a health benefit of any sort, synthetic PJs (or for that matter, clothes in general) would be far more of a concern than inorganic cotton. Put simply, it is difficult to see how buying organic sleepware could be better for you, but remarkably easy to see how it could be better for the people selling it. And that probably tells you something.
Of course, it is more than a little possible that we are really just buying what we perceive to be ‘luxury’ because we want to feel like we are pampering ourselves and our kids. If this is the case (it certainly is some of the time) it hardly matters whether there is any difference between organic and inorganic at all.
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