By Gene Hall
Since I write on agriculture and food policy, I’m in a position to see a lot of nonsense that rolls down the road disguised as fact. It is both sad and amusing to see how the word “natural” is used by people who have no idea what it means. Then, there are those who know exactly what it means and mislead you—on purpose.
No day passes that someone does not encourage me to influence food choices that are more “natural.” Maybe I would if someone could tell me what that means. No one can, because no standard exists. Organic, on the other hand, is different. There is a quite reliable standard for organic, enforced by the USDA. The government stops short of telling you that standard is better than conventionally grown food, because it isn’t; but there is a standard—a good one.
Natural? No one knows what that means. Every food product on the planet today has evolved, often with the encouragement of science, into something that is better than the original of thousands of years ago. I am reluctant to dismiss any of the technology that makes that possible.
I get attacked all the time by people who seem to think nature is a benevolent Earth Mother type. Sorry. Mother Nature designed us as a prey species. She’s been trying to kill us since the day we were born. It’s our intellect and the ability to develop tools and technology that propelled homo sapiens to the top of the food chain.
Yet, we are so easily persuaded by anything called “natural.” No, marketers don’t think we are stupid. They just know we’re not paying attention.