I just read an interesting post on a Boston Locavore blog (click here) that supports an argument made by Maine farmer Eliot Coleman (click here) that the term "authentic" should be used to mean what "organic" used to mean.
In a world of "big organic" companies, Coleman says, the O-word has become washed out, either diluted to mean "generally healthy," or over-concentrated to refer to specific quality standards required for labeling food products.
"Authentic," he argues, is a term that embodies everything that sustainability-minded folks should care about: "Beyond organic," he calls it.
The word comes from the Greek word authentes, which means "one who does things for himself." It connotes being trustworthy, genuine, reliable. All things that we hope for from those who make the food we use to nourish our bodies.
It strikes me that in our world of superficial technology (for heaven's sake, giving someone a "gift" on Facebook is a virtual act only--no one actually gets the flower or teddy bear or hug that you sent!), "authentic" is something of a universal yearning. It's what's behind the do-it-yourself movement, the proliferation of crafting (witness the success of Etsy), and of course, the locavore/sustainable agriculture/foodie movement.
There's something spiritual about the yearning for authenticity too. We want to experience life, feel what we can with our hands, but also feel connected to the genuine, authentic mysteries of the world, like how a tiny seed can become a growing, fruiting plant. We are trying to learn how to distinguish between false promises and genuine truth. We're searching for what's real.
What do you think - is "authentic" what you're looking for?