Is Agriculture “Natural”? What is?{8}

When you hear the word “natural,” what comes to mind?  Does a field of corn with a red barn and a few cows?  Here are some of the first images that pop up under a search for “natural” on Google:


Notice how those trees are in a straight row, with a perfectly round shape?  They were intentionally planted and pruned to look like that.  What about the fern garden?  Who put those gates there, what are the gates made of, and how are the plants arranged?  Do strawberries found on the forest floor look like these?

Many people prefer food, cosmetic products, clothing, and medicines that are “natural.”  Advertising gets a kick out of it by labeling products as “natural and artificial flavors,” “organic,” and “100% natural.”  What do we really mean by these terms?  What do we think we mean by these terms?


In addition, why does it matter that we use these terms?  There is a pervading belief in our culture that “natural” means good.  Is this true?  What about vaccines?  What about GMOs?  What about air conditioning?  Are there times when “natural” things are good, and times when they are not?

The Skeptic’s Dictionary has some thoughts about the meaning of the word “natural:”

It and the USDA also have some thoughts about the meaning of the word “organic:”


Let’s sit down and talk about whether agriculture is natural, whether that makes it good, and whether our terminology is sufficient.