Make mine an Artificial … and make it a double

Close-up of glass with whisky

There’s a sucker born every minute.

That was my thought when I saw the piece Taco Bell and Pizza Hut Chuck Artificial Ingredients.

Taco Bell and Pizza Hut have announced they’re getting rid of artificial colors and flavors, becoming the latest national food retailers to “go natural.”

Instead of “black pepper flavor,” for instance, Taco Bell will start using actual black pepper in its seasoned beef.

Taco Bell also said it will remove trans fats and high-fructose corn syrups from most of its menu by the end of the year…

Chipotle recently said it had nearly finished removing genetically modified ingredients from its stores. Subway, the subject of an online campaign to remove an ingredient in its food also found in yoga mats, also updated its ingredient list. And in February, Nestlé pledged to replace “vanillin” in its Crunch bars with natural vanilla flavor, along with other changes to remove artificial colors and flavors.

Ahhh, the power of marketing!

But the reality is that the food from Taco Bell and Pizza Hut wasn’t healthy before and it won’t be healthy when it’s all natural. That’s because “naturalness” has nothing to do with health, no matter how much the food-phobes insist that it does.

Who are the food-phobes?

They are the quacks and charlatans who create communities of fear around food, cringing and whingeing about everything from artificial flavors to genetically modified foods.

Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are following Chipotle into attempting to convert these communities of fear into customers. As PT Barnum once said, you can’t go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

The ultimate irony, though, it that most of us would not be here if it weren’t for technology and artificial ingredients and treatments. For most of human existence, natural has been synonymous with deadly not healthy.

Deadly viruses and bacteria are all natural.

Famines are all natural.

Nutrient poor plants are all natural.

Droughts, floods, earthquakes and tornadoes are 100% natural, too.

For hundreds of thousands of years not a single individual died from artificial anything, but human beings died in droves. They died in childbirth; they died of bacterial and viral illness; they died being mauled and eaten by wild animals; they died of exposure to the extremes of weather and they died in natural disasters.

In 2015, in first world countries, the deaths rates prior to old age have never been lower and lifespans have never been longer. Nonetheless, people have convinced themselves that if they returned to the natural lifestyle of their ancestors they will live longer and be healthier, in direct contradiction to the unassailable fact that those ancestors were neither healthier nor longer lived.

Why? Because they have transmuted the entirely human fear of illness and death into a fear of chemistry. They don’t understand chemistry so they are afraid of “artificial” chemicals.

They are living in a world of fear of their own making by conveniently ignoring the fact that it is “artificial” ingredients and treatments have ensured that they are still here to be afraid.

I’m 56 years old, and my story is typical. I could honestly tell you that as an adult I have rarely been sick. I can only recall two times that I ever was sick enough to miss work: the first was when I had breastfeeding related mastitis and my temperature soared to 104; the second occurred because I was exposed to chickenpox and was not immune since no vaccine existed when I was a child. I missed work to protect the patients, not to protect me.

But I can also tell you that I have rarely been sick because I have relied heavily on profoundly artificial treatments and preventatives. Indeed, without them I would probably be dead.

I never faced the scourges of smallpox, diphtheria, pertussis, rubella or polio because I received vaccines.

My vision is poor because of nearsightedness. In paleolithic times I would have died being eaten by a predator or falling off a cliff that I failed to see. Instead, I have always had 20/20 vision because of glasses, made from that artificial ingredient glass. More recently, I have maintained 20/20 vision through plastic: contact lenses.

I gave birth to 4 healthy children, and never had to worry about dying in childbirth.

I was able to limit the number of pregnancies I experienced by the use of contraceptives, and therefore further reduced the risk of dying of pregnancy related complications.

When I was 40, I developed an all natural benign brain tumor that affected my vision. In nature, it would have ultimately killed me, but not until I had suffered excruciating headaches for years. Instead, I had a single treatment with radiation and it shrunk to the point where it no longer caused symptoms.

At 45 I developed all natural narrow angle glaucoma. Narrow angle is much less common than typical (wide angle) glaucoma, and is due to a structural defect in the eye. A laser was used to open channels between the anterior and posterior eye. It took 5 seconds and cured the problem. Without it, I inevitably would have become blind.

At 45 I also developed high blood pressure, now well controlled on anti-hypertensive medications.

At 50 I developed gallstones. Within months I had my gallbladder removed through the laparoscope, a procedure so simple that I went out to dinner the following night.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. Nature has thrown me a bunch of health curves and I’ve caught them all with the aid of “artificial” chemicals and procedures.

As far as I’m concerned, if you are gullible enough to believe that the problem with Taco Bell and Pizza Hut was the artificial or GMO ingredients in their products, instead of the all natural fat and sugar, then Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are entitled to trick you that their products are now healthy because they are natural.

In the meantime, make mine (food, vaccines, medications) an Artificial … and make it a double!