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Joe's Cafe, 24/7 pit stop for ESL learners and teachers | April 2013
Egg's off, bacon's off, bread's off, tea's off. English is on though.

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)

Joe | Friday, April 19th, 2013 | Filed under Vocabulary

3 Responses to “Organic or Conventional? WT*?”

  1. Marina says:

    Great thought. This switch of terminology never crossed my mind. And you are absolutely right. One day people who live “normal” lives eating “normal” food and breathing “normal” air will simply vanish. Because normal isn’t normal any longer.

  2. Viviana says:

    Hello,
    I can’t but agree about what you said on “organic” and “coventional” production although here I want to point out the power of words. Words are the espression of our thought and we often use them carelessly and what worse we allow others to. This is something those that hold power (being it economical, politica, or whatever) know well. We need to learn their way of speaking only like this we might break free.

  3. Nadia says:

    This is a remarkable reflection. I appreciate your opinion more than my little vocabulary can express. I was always attracted by how using the correct words helps us to understand a situation and to solve a problem. This is a clear sample of that situation. And knowing that it is the same old stuff since Confucio, got me a little ughhhhh about humans.
    I would like to share your thoughts it in FB.

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