“Chemical-free” – a term I’ve seen several times attributed to many products, especially food and produce at farmers markets and even in gardening circles these days. This term is often misused to describe plants grown without the use of any pesticide, either conventional or organic. I have my thoughts that I’ll share later on that subject but first let’s talk about this “chemical-free” that gardeners, farmers, and others use and why its not only a myth, but a dangerous one at that.
Ain’t such a thing as “chemical-free” anything
At face value, the term “chemical-free” would literally mean that whatever the label is applied to contains no chemicals. That the entire item, whether it be animal, vegetable, or mineral is devoid of any and all chemicals. Factually this can never, ever be true. Everything that exists is made of chemicals. Oxygen, water, carbon dioxide, and any simple molecule, by definition, is a chemical. Plants and animals are organized structures filled with complex chemicals. Even you and I, as humans, are walking, talking bags of chemicals. The air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink are all composed of a great mixture of chemicals. The use of the term “chemical-free” to describe anything is uninformed at best, and intellectually dishonest at worst. But a bigger problem, as we’ll discuss later, is that using the term can cause confusion and even fear of things as simple as food and as complex as science and medicine.
What most people intend to say when they use the term “chemical-free” in relation to plants or produce is that they are produced without use of pesticides or conventional “chemical” fertilizers.
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