I'm a responsible chap. So I worry, a lot.
I worry about dust mites. Mold. Mercury in fish. Pisces in Mercury. Lead. Asbestos. Pesticides. Herbicides. PBCs. Arsenic. Particulates. Chlorine. Radiation. Genetically modified foods. Drug-resistant E. coli. Melamine. Sunshine. BBCs -- sorry, I mean CFCs. Drug interactions. Aerosols. Methane. And so much more.
Yesterday I received in the mail a sales brochure from VitaCost.com that offers hope of surviving a few more days. Now I should mention that I like VitaCost and order nutritional supplements from them. Their proprietary label, Nutraceutical Sciences Institute, seems cost-effective. They also offer good discounts on other high-quality brands like Nature's Herbs, Country Life, Carlson, New Chapter, and Life Extension.
This catalog, however, isn't pitching food supplements. "Go Organic! Good for Nature, Good for You!" "FREE Shipping with Purchase." (Unless you purchase, what is there to ship?) The products may be organic and natural, or as natural as anything processed and packaged can be, but their common denominator is that they don't have various insulting substances in them. For example:
Sodium lauryl sulfate-free body wash
Oxybenzone-free sun protection
Petroleum-free shave (who knew?)
Ammonia-free hair color
Propylene glycol-free toothpaste and rinse -- I mean, "oral health"
BPA-free drink bottles
Chemical-free laundry detergent ("Did you know? Some chemicals found in conventional laundry detergent can take up to 10 years to break down in the environment." That's brill! I've been in environments where people break down every other day.)
Don't forget your nippers: "Safe and gentle for baby." Organic toys.
And your pets. Non-allergenic cat and dog treats, from which corn, eggs, wheat, mold and chemical detergents are banished. Natural solutions for fleas and ticks. (What problems do fleas and ticks have that we can help them solve?)
Is this concern for purity in every aspect of life progress -- "conscious living," as the New Age sages claim -- or the signature of an effete, self-obsessed decadence? Smart choices, love for Gaia -- or a hip form of conspicuous consumption by people who wouldn't dream of having a backyard barbecue (food cooked at a temperature above 200 degrees F is dangerous, you know) or driving anything but a water powered car?
Here's a little perspective to measure "Good for Nature, Good for You" against.
Throughout most of human history, as well as in some parts of the world today, people were swept out of this life by uncontrollable diseases. The Black Death in the 14th century is estimated to have killed a minimum of one-third of Europe's population. It often took only a few days between coming down with the symptoms and expiring. Even in the 19th century, as you can read in books about that time, people took sick and were gone shockingly fast.
If you were a soldier wounded in battle during the War Between the States, your chance of being given anesthetic was almost nil. A military surgeon who decided it was between your dying and having an infected limb amputated (no one had heard of antibiotics) gave you a shot of whiskey and started sawing.
Less than a hundred years ago, nearly two decades into the century when most of us were born, the influenza epidemic removed 50 million people from the world's population, a greater death toll than any single war in all recorded time. This site says, "Scientists, doctors, and health officials could not identify this disease which was striking so fast and so viciously, eluding treatment and defying control. Some victims died within hours of their first symptoms. Others succumbed after a few days; their lungs filled with fluid and they suffocated to death."
Are you trembling because there is no organic avocado extract in your bar of soap?
Anything that makes your body-mind system work better, whether physiological- or placebo-based, can perhaps be justified. The state of the soul outranks the health of the physical body, but the second can facilitate or thwart the first. It's hard to meditate when your insides are in open rebellion, your nerves are sending distress flares, and your brain cells are walking off the job because of creeping Alzheimer's. Those who are ill, or suffer from a physical dysfunction such as diabetes or Parkinson's Disease -- or are just getting on in years -- will never scoff at good nutrition and avoidance of pathogens.
But will they ask themselves, as the VitaCost flyer does: "Why are you washing your HAIR with chemicals?"