Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Careless Language



That's James Randi, a funny man, and one of the few people I'd listen to with the title `The Amazing` before their name. I kinda like his comments about how `natural` is flung around with reckless abandon. All natural this, and natural herbal that, it's enough for someone to gouge their ears. Totally independently of Mr. Randi, I have about the same sarcastic response to the suggestion that natural is a priori better: Methylmercury, cyanide, and botulism are all natural, but you'd do well to steer clear of all of them.

Unless someone wants to suggest that manufactured cyanide would be worse for you than the sort that some plants produce.

Organic is another poorly conceived term. I understand it's supposed to be a stand in for a suite of farming characteristics, but frankly, Organic was the wrong label to put to this suite. When I first started hearing about organic this, that and the other, I wanted to know what an inorganic banana looked like. Did organic potatoes have extra carbon? Are non-organic carrots made in a plastic injection mould?

The term organic implies that there's something unilaterally, fundamentally wrong or unnatural with non-organic foods, which is a sweeping generalization that I'd take issue with. Plying on the whole `natural=good` misconstrusion, it suggests that their goods are all around better, healthier, more sustainable. This is also not true. Yet based solely on the label, and the mistique about it, a growing number of people assume just that. Including, I'll add, quite a number of educated people who should really know better.

1 comment:

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Cool! He's a funny bloke, you know. I mean, like, WOW!

The natural and organic crap labeling pisses me off too. Good thing piss is natural and organic, you know!

Thanks for the chuckle this morning, I really needed it.