I have to wonder how many people actually carry out the quite simple exercise of checking the meaning of words in a dictionary. Doing so, they might learn just how much gobbledegook is being flung at them every day. And just how much advertisers and those with more political motives, are perpetually playing on their fears and ignorance. Hypo-allergenic shampoo, for example, is not one that prevents allergic reaction, just one that contains lower levels of the proteins that do cause an allergic reaction. The compound word means ‘less allergens’ – one of those utterly meaningless statements of which advertisers are fond because there’s less chance of Trading Standards jumping on them. The question you have to ask is: less allergens than what? A patch of stinging nettles? A wasp’s nest?  Obviously the intention of putting these buzz-words on bottles is not to inform, but to blind with science. Perhaps realising this people could then ask themselves why fruit additives are good or why washing with herbs will give you an orgasm? At its root, all this obfuscation is playing on the simplistic idea that natural is good and chemical is bad (This ignores everyday facts of life e.g. because we drink chemically-treated water we are utterly free of natural cholera and amoebic dysentery), which brings me, by a roundabout route, to the incredible ignorance surrounding the word ‘organic’.

While driving around in rural Essex it’s quite common to see signs up advertising all sort of items for sale – knackered lawn mowers, ancient cars, flowers, honey – and some of the signs display literacy ranging from the poetic to the abysmal. But just lately I’ve been noticing a trend set by ‘greenies’, adopted by supermarkets, and promulgated by stupidity. Now you can buy organic manure, organic cheese, organic eggs… Do the people who started this strange craze have any idea what ‘organic’ means? Could they please explain to me what inorganic cheese, manure or eggs might be?

If you are green then you’ll probably think it means items produced without any of those nasty chemical thingies. What utter drivel. Everything is made of chemicals or their constituent elements. They are not something recently created by evil science but something derived from what is already here. Monosodium glutamate (flavour enhancer) … yuk, we don’t want any of that – far too many syllables. Ever wondered why tomatoes enhance a dish? Because they’re packed with MSG. An essential chemical we must ingest every day is sodium chloride: the product of a metal that if held in the hand would result in you being hospitalised shortly after, and the basic constituent of mustard gas. It is also a chemical three oxygen atoms away from being a powerful bleach and weed killer. How about these terrible sounding compounds: diallyl disulphide, diallyl trisulphide, S-2-propenylcysteine sulphoxide … The list is a long one, but can be contracted to one word: garlic.

That which is organic is something relating to or derived from plants or animals, or it is any of a class of compounds based on carbon. Interestingly, a final definition in the dictionary I’m presently studying, is: any substance such as a pesticide or fertilizer derived from animal or vegetable matter. So, organicfood that you buy in the supermarket can have been sprayed with a nicotine insecticide or the organic chemical DDT. In fact few insecticides and fertilizers are not the product or organic chemistry, so they are organic. In fact, some of the most poisonous substances on this planet are products of organicchemistry, whether performed in a laboratory or in the more potent chemical laboratories inside living things. Oh my goodness, chemicals, I hear you cry. Sigh. Get with reality. Curare is organic, so why not spread some of that on your whole-grain bread and see how you get on? And next time you buy yourorganic potatoes, remember they could have been sprayed with the organiccompound agent orange and that would make them no less ORGANIC!!