It’s a good question, really:

When is a fish really organic?

The New York Times mulled this question in the business section yesterday. If the organic label hinges upon a vegetative diet and not using antibiotics or growth hormones, then farmed fish can be organic. But what’s natural about confining thousands of fish in nets? And what’s unnatural about carnivorous fish like salmon that feed upon other fish born in the wild?

Ponders the Times:

[A] proposed guideline at the Agriculture Department for calling certain farmed fish “organic” is controversial on all sides. Environmentalists argue that many farm-raised fish live in cramped nets in conditions that can pollute the water, and that calling them organic is a perversion of the label. Those who catch and sell wild fish say that their products should be called organic and worry that if they are not, fish farmers will gain a huge leg up.

And with the growth of the organic sector, and the growing number of eco-conscious vegetarians who can’t resist the occasional fillet of fish (myself included), the Agriculture Department’s decision on the subject will undoubtedly complicate the debate on seafood, what’s natural, and what’s organic.