Organic or Conventional? WT*?

I was intrigued to read about research into what fruit flies think of organic food. Apparently they like it:

“By nearly every measure, including fertility, stress resistance and longevity, flies that fed on organic bananas and potatoes fared better than those who dined on conventionally raised produce.”

“Conventionally raised produce?” I beg your pardon? For thousands of years mankind has grown plants and raised animals organically, that is to say naturally or as close to naturally as makes no difference. In my naivety I would call that “conventional”. The mere fact that for the past century or so we’ve contaminated our soils with fertilizers, polluted our produce with pesticides and abused our animals with pharmaceuticals to grow ever more and more at greater and greater profit does not mean that the practices of millennia suddenly become “unconventional”.

But it’s a neat trick. You see how it’s done? You just call whatever you want by something else. Suddenly industrial agriculture and factory farming are “conventional”. As if by magic, stuffing patients with billions of dollars of pills becomes “mainstream”. Clever isn’t it? Notice how the other, less profitable practices are given those strange, weirdo labels like “alternative” and “organic”. It’s what happens when we let interested parties hijack the language and stand it on its head. Some 2,500 years before 1984 a Chinese philosopher warned of this danger:

“When words lose their meaning people lose their freedom.” (Confucius)

By Josef Essberger for EnglishClub April 2013
Josef started teaching English as a foreign language in 1991 and founded EnglishClub for learners and teachers in 1997.


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