The word inorganic is patently inappropriate for describing food, even if that food wasn't produced in a manner consistent with organic farming. Wikipedia points this out, but doesn't really offer an alternative. While the phrase food produced through chemical farming may leave some people with a bad taste in their mouth, I doubt it carries the same connotation as food that is not organic food. Is there a better word to use here?

  • The term organic food has been introduced to distinguish from that produced with the use of chemical or other growth promoters/ 'bio-cides', etc. As such you cannot have an antonym for the term organic food.
    – Kris
    Oct 12, 2012 at 14:48
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    @Kris I don't understand why such a term precludes the existence of its antonym; even so, though, if your point is about the definition of antonym, can you come up with a word that describes the relative complement of organic food in food (set theory)?
    – kojiro
    Oct 12, 2012 at 14:57
  • Take a look also at the interesting discussion on "Word for “cinema with a single screen” english.stackexchange.com/questions/85475/…
    – Kris
    Oct 12, 2012 at 14:59
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    Pesticidal - but it wouldn't make a great advertisement for the product.
    – Alan Gee
    Oct 12, 2012 at 15:04
  • What is the context for the word you want to use? If it's advertising, it needs a different answer from describing such food in an academic paper.
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 12, 2012 at 15:18

2 Answers 2


Most often, "conventional" is used as a retronym for "not organic."

It's not great, and a better one may gain acceptance; be patient: these things take time.

  • Here are a couple of links to strengthen your case. Other terms that I came across in my cursory search were sustainable and traditional farming. Oct 12, 2012 at 15:19
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    @coleopterist, I don't agree that sustainable is equivalent to organic. See this discussion about the distinction between organic and sustainable: sustainabletable.org/issues/organic
    – JLG
    Oct 12, 2012 at 16:43

For product labels, the USDA uses non-organic to contrast with organic. See these links:



As Jeffiekins says in his answer, for the farming method used to produce the food or textile, the terms the USDA and others use are usually organic vs. conventional:



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