A few weeks ago, this image showed up on a notorious hyper-granola website called "The Naked Label," along with the reminder that "we cannot make better food than nature." I want you to look at it for a moment, and tell me if you spot anything wrong with this image.
Next, I want to get this on a t-shirt, with the back of the shirt printed with detailed biological and medical information about the fungus depicted here -- the 100% all-natural amanita muscaria,
which is both poisonous and psychoactive. In fact, I want a whole series of shirts with this same logo, and all sorts of other natural things depicted -- say, a plague bacillus, a golden dart frog, and maybe someone getting eaten by a bear.
But surely we all know what the website meant,
and I'm just needlessly nitpicking on their rather dubious art direction? No: I'm criticizing them for the "naturalistic fallacy:" the belief that "natural" things are good, and "artificial" things are bad, even without any real understanding of what one and the other really are. It's a way to perform one's social class ["I only eat natural
foods, of course; I would never let my children encounter anything packaged."] while drawing political and financial ire at technologies which are out there saving human lives every day. We get to worry about obesity epidemics because until a few years ago, we were worried about famines.
I know: several of my family members nearly died from them.
There was recently an excellent article about real food concerns and how to separate them from populist nonsense; if you're at all interested, I recommend it. It's called "The biggest concerns about GMO food aren't really about GMO's," and it's by +Beth Skwarecki
For the lovely image below and more about it, and the nonsense which sites like that purvey, a h/t to Yvette d'Entremont (@thescibabe on Twitter) and a recommendation for her article: http://gawker.com/the-bullshit-hypocrisy-of-all-natural-foods-1702686054