Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Naked City agriculture

From the Naked City episode “Spectre of the Rose Street Gang” (December 19, 1962), sounding like a voice from the future:

“I got a wife, two kids, a nice business — produce, organically grown, no sprays.”
The Oxford English Dictionary gives this definition for organically : “In the manner of or with regard to organic farming or gardening.” The first citation is from H. J. Massingham, The Wisdom of the Fields (1945): “What I did not expect was to see a farm, organically husbanded and thus faithful to the old spirit of the country.”

The OED dates to 1942 the use of organic to describe farming or gardening: ”using no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals. Also designating a farmer or gardener utilizing such a method, or a farm on which the method is employed.”

The OED ’s first citation for organic as a word that describes food (“produced without the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals”) is a 1960 New York Times advertisement: “Fruit and vegetable juice. Natural. Organic foods. Energy vitamin and minerals. Catering to special diets.”

Why a reference to organic farming in a Naked City episode? Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published on September 27, 1962. Sprays — pesticides — were in the air and on people’s minds. This line of Naked City dialogue was (and is) food for thought.

Related reading
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)

[The OED Identifies the author of The Wisdom of the Fields as A. J. Massingham. But he’s H. J.]

comments: 3

Chris said...

French uses biologique. It's all a bit arbitrary, since most modern pesticides, including the nastier ones, are "organic compounds," chemically speaking.

Anonymous said...

Heard in a Trader Joe's:

What does organic mean? A buck more. Like new and improved.

Oy, Eddie!

The Arthurian said...

My father was profoundly affected by Rachel Carson's book. I was too young to appreciate how much it affected him. You jog my memory.