Mother Nature Won't Wash Your Food

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Via, I learned of a recent New York Times op-ed about a recently discerned correlation between farmers' markets and certain types of food-borne illness. Steve Milloy wryly notes that, for once, a report on science in the popular media reminds us that "correlation does not necessarily imply causation."

Another point from the article interests me as well:

[E]ven if our results did identify a causal relationship between farmers markets and food-borne illness, it would not be possible to identify the precise mechanisms through which this happens, and it would be a critical mistake to conclude that the foods sold at farmers markets are themselves to blame. That is because most cases of illness are caused by consumers who undercook or fail to wash their food. Indeed, our results may suggest that many people erroneously believe that food bought at farmers markets needn't be washed because it is "natural." [bold added]
I wouldn't be surprised. Such a belief would be on a par with the chemophobia that drives so many into the arms of the environmentalist movement, which is ironic, given the simple, low-tech measures that are known to be effective against these very diseases. The "natural hygiene," if you will, that might explain the correlation also reminds me of an aside by Ayn Rand regarding said movement:
A cultural movement often produces caricatures of itself that emphasize its essence. The hippies are one such caricature. These ecological crusaders -- who would pollute any stream by stepping into it -- are the physical embodiments of the spirit of today's culture. Much more can be said about their motives, but for the moment observe the intention of the physical appearance they choose to assume. The purpose of flaunting deliberate ugliness and bodily dirt is to offend others (while simultaneously playing for pity) -- to defy, to affront, to bait those who hold values, any values. (from The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, p. 147)
Sanitation and cleanliness are life-promoting values. Being sure to obtain those values requires a modicum of understanding. "Man-made (e.g., chemicals) good, 'natural' (e.g., grown without pesticides) bad," would not be understanding, even if it happened to be true. I might find myself smirking the next time I encounter a hippie at a farmers' market.

-- CAV

No comments: