Word Wednesday: Natural

I was cleaning up my draft file a while back and found 109 articles or series of articles that I never finished.  This one spoke to me and I thought I'd post it now. You may never know it by listening to political rhetoric, TV commercials or the main-stream media, but words actually mean things.  Specific things!  If we allow ourselves to get caught up in the current trend to re-define words and to use them as we see fit, we end up saying nothing of value.  If we don't realize that today's societal trend is to adopt a Shakespearian attitude in applying meanings to words, we may be fooled into believing something that just isn't so. In the next several weeks, I will be sharing some of the ways in which words are misused or even purposely used incorrectly and how to discern the truth by paying close attention the real meaning of words. This week's word is...Natural.  Natural is a word misused by the advertising industry and is one of my Dad's pet peeves.  Natural means "existing in or produced by nature : not artificial."  (Merriam Webster.com)   Let's take a look at some of the ways in which the word natural is used in advertising.

*All Natural  *Natural Goodness  *Naturally Good  *Naturally Delicious

"Natural" is an advertising technique.  Advertisers use the word "natural" in a way that leads you to believe that, if it's natural, it has to be good for you.  This is not always true.  Here is a short list of things that exist in nature that are NOT good for you. ---- •    Tornadoes (and other Natural Disasters) •    Scarlet Fever (and some people reportedly die of "Natural Causes") •    Cocaine (but this is not what you would consider a Natural High) --- Why is this an important distinction?  Because not everything that is advertised as "natural" is natural and not everything that is natural is so good for you.  There are things that exist in nature that are not good for you when taken in large amounts-like salt.  If you drink too much water in a short period of time, you can die.  We know this from the radio stations that have had water drinking contests with disastrous results!  "Natural" potato chips may be better for you, but if you eat too many, you will still gain weight.  If you eat them exclusively, you are not getting the nutrition you need. I remember a Bill Cosby stand up routine where his wife asked him to get breakfast for the children.  His young dd wanted chocolate cake, which was already made and easily served.  He argued that it had natural ingredients like flour, eggs and milk.  Though his children were singing praises to dad for the chocolate cake with natural ingredients, mom didn't believe it was a good choice for breakfast. Related to all things natural is the word "Organic".  Organic foods are all the rage lately.  Naturally good for you.  Consumer Reports did a study several years ago about Organic Foods.  They determined that organic foods containing no pesticides were no more healthful than those that used pesticides.  Actually, they determined that some organic foods might contain a larger amount of micro organisms for which the pesticides are used.  In fact, it found that it can be dangerous to buy organic fish and seafood because fish can contain mercury, which is also natural. Many products use the word "natural" in order to get you to buy them, but some of them are really not very good for you.  Fruit snacks may have natural flavoring, but I wouldn't suggest my kids eat many of them.  Something may be listed as "All Natural" but if you read the packaging, you'll find that not all of the ingredients are natural. In general, it is true that things are better the way they are created by God in nature.  However, not everything labeled as "natural" really is and not everything that is natural is really good.  Remember that the Lord gave the Jews many laws, the purpose of which was to protect them from some of the more deadly things that are "natural". Words mean things, don't they?  Stay tuned for next week's edition of Word Wednesday featuring another misused word or term.


  • jojosblog

    It’s funny. I really thought I had posted about this before, but I found it in my drafts file. It was like a gift from God finding all my virtual notes. What a find!

  • Leslie

    Fantastic article Jo Jo! I have had to explain this to peeps over and over again. The Fed Govt even has a special “formula” for each of those phrases too. It can be so confusing. Looking forward to your other articles in this line.

  • Carla

    Ooooh, now you are speaking my language! Yes, words DEFINITELY mean things. . . and not necessarily what the talking heads lead you to believe. The problem is if you don’t know what they mean, you will believe what you are being fed and think that they must be telling the truth. How many folks will actually check? (Not all are word nerds like you and me, sweet pea!) “All Natural” and “Organic” are used mainly, in my opinion, to raise the price without raising the quality, in most cases. Unfortunately, in our hurried, busy, busy world, most folks buy it without looking into it, thinking they are getting something better for their families. You are so right when you say, “Not everything labeled as natural really is and not everything that is natural is really good.” Can’t wait for more of this subject!

  • cindy holman

    I love that you used that Bill Cosby illustration! That’s one of our favorites and we quote it often!! You are right about the word ‘natural’ – we don’t think about the negative – just the positive use of the word – gets you thinking!

  • forex robot

    Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

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