If it’s natural it’s got to be better

This book, even though I hate the title, addresses one of my hot buttons:

One of the great myths of alternative medicine and the health food industry is that natural things are better than artificial or synthetic things because natural is natural and Mother Nature wouldn’t want to hurt us. Wouldn’t she just? Plants and animals have had many millions of years to evolve ways of protecting themselves against predators and competitors for resources. Humans have had about 100,000 years of hunting and gathering to evolve natural resistance and about 10,000 years of agriculture to breed out the nastiness, and these times are just not long enough to make much difference. We are surrounded by plants and animals which can do us great harm if we are not careful about what we eat, and also by a myriad of fungi which delight in making safe foods unsafe.

People, with great pride, will say something to effect of “It’s all natural” as if that proves the goodness of something. To date my best response to this sort of idiot talk is, “Botulism is all natural too.” But, being idiots, they will insist that even natural poisons are good too because that is how you control insect pests or some such thing. They just don’t get it. If “all natural” poisons exist as well as “all natural” food/drink/shampoo/whatever then there must be a continuum. Hence by saying some food is “all natural” does give us any information about it’s fitness for consumption.

I would like to suggest they have a nice meal of raw mad-cow brains, marinated in a salmonella broth, with rhubarb greens on the side, and washed down with oleander tea. But I’d be afraid they would actually do it and the police would arrest me on some charge like “engaging in a battle of wits with an unarmed person”.