"It's Not Natural!"

One symptom of a well fed nation is the large number of people telling you what you should or should not eat. Activist groups, overzealous Foodies, and celebrities want to dictate your diet.

While each group has it’s own agenda, they use a common weapon: claims of what is or isn’t “natural.”  

I can’t say who latched onto “natural” first — the food control crowd or crafty marketers.  It’s sort of a chicken or the egg scenario.   Calling food “natural” is so en vogue, the Food and Drug Administration was asked to define the term last year.   

Until now, FDA considered the term natural to mean: “containing nothing artificial or synthetic that wouldn’t normally be found in a particular food.”  

That answer won’t satisfy food evangelists like Doctor Oz (who routinely promotes “natural super foods,” whatever those are).    

As a proponent of human advancement through Agriculture, allow me to throw water on the “natural” discussion….

Agriculture, in and of itself, is not natural!  

That’s right.  Humans, by nature, are hunter gatherers.  We rooted around for grubs and berries until 10,000 years ago. Then, humans started producing their own food.  Tired of chasing mammoths off cliffs and perpetual hunger, they cultivated crops and domesticated livestock.  

Agriculture was invented.  Like the automobile and air conditioning.  Two other human inventions that, while not natural, make life pretty darn comfortable.   

Now you understand why I bristle at this silly notion perpetuated by food do gooders that “natural = better.”  It doesn’t.  

Potato famine is natural.  Fungicide which prevents potato blight, isn’t.  Bovine tuberculosis and Salmonella are natural.  Medicine and food safety practices, are not natural.  

So, please get this “natural is better” notion out of your head.  Especially as it pertains to food.    Earth has grown to 7.4 billion hungry mouths.  Think you’re going to feed them “naturally?  Watch The Hunger Games and rethink that notion.  

Controlling Choice. Naturally.  

I’m for letting people eat whatever they choose.  That doesn’t fly with activist groups eager to get their hands on your dinner plate.  They know you’ll tune them out if you know their real agenda.  So they go natural.  

It isn’t natural, they say, for one species to drink another species’ milk.  This is completely inaccurate, by the way.  Given the opportunity, every mammal from chimpanzees to cats drink cow’s milk.  It’s not a matter of choice.  It’s because humans were the only species capable of inventing the milking machine and pasteurization.  Yay humans!   

Food activists play the “natural” card against everything they oppose.  Livestock faming, herbicides, and GMO’s aren’t natural, Ag’s opponents shout.  Great.  You know what else isn’t natural?  Vegetarianism.  Humans are omnivorous by nature.  Tofu isn’t natural either.  It’s man- made, coagulated soybean juice.   Sound appetizing?  

Natural is Good (Marketing)

Whether or not the FDA defines the word, you’re not likely to stop hearing “natural” anytime soon.  Because it’s good marketing.   Demand for processed food is dropping like a rock.  Meanwhile any food category seen as fresh or natural is on the uptick.  

While no one can say for sure what natural is, they’ll pay a premium to get it.  

Emotional Appeal

The word “natural” appeals to emotion.  Which is why it’s so used by marketers, pundits, and protestors.  Humans are emotional decision makers.  

This is why I respond to Ag’s critics with more emotion.  Weeds, locusts, malnutrition, and starvation are natural.   That doesn’t make those things good.  

Damian Mason is an Agriculturist, Businessman, Podcaster, and Speaker.  www.damianmason.com

Angie Carel