IS “CHEMICAL” REALLY A DIRTY WORD?

Fbananaarmers have been battling public perception for years.  It seems there has always been the faction that is distrustful of modern farming practices according to a quick walk through the ag papers and publications of the past, but it wasn’t until recently that agriculture was literally thrust into the world of high stakes media outreach.

So now, we work harder to see the world through the lens of a non-farmer.  And we know from our conversations and research that “chemical” is one of those words that strikes fear in the hearts of non-farmers and urbanites.

Organic food has become the gold standard because it is marketed as “chemical free.”  It isn’t grown without using chemicals, but marketing and media have made it that way and now that is the understanding of the public … right or wrong.

Cleaners are marketed as “chemical free.”  Yes, I have been invited to home parties all over the state where I can buy the latest chemical free cleaning rag to protect my family from the dangers of those horrible things.

The fact is … nothing is chemical free.

In this article, the author really examines the idea that the word “chemical” and even “chemisty” and all the technology and innovation both supply us with, have become negative and bad things in today’s society.

She writes, “Marketers take advantage of the poisoned meaning of the word chemical to tout their products as being safe, healthy, and chemical-free. It’s another gimmick. In 2008 in the U.K., a Miracle Gro compost product was labeled “100% chemical free.” That’s not truthful, according to the scientific definition of chemical. Yet the advertising authority decided that most people interpret chemical-free as synonymous with “organic” and okayed the use of the term “chemical-free.” Organic products are not only made with and contain chemicals but can be produced with natural pesticides (also chemicals). Natural or synthetic, you can’t be free from chemicals. It’s ridiculous to use the term “chemical-free”.”

I understand that labels and marketing and all the conflicting media makes it hard to understand what is true and what isn’t.  But at the heart of it, you are really doing yourself and your family a disservice if you don’t read up on food issues and be prepared to throw out the media hype.  After all, what else could you afford if you weren’t buying “chemical free?”

Fear clouds common sense.  Don’t be bullied into buying high priced items because marketing tactics have scared you into it.

Lindsay MitchellLindsay Mitchell
ICMB/ICGA Marketing Director

About corncorps

As Illinois' corn farmers, we're proud to power a sustainable economy through ethanol, livestock and nutritious food. We love agriculture, the land and CornBelters baseball.See http://ilcorn.org or follow us on Twitter, http://twitter.com/ilcorn.
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