Natural parenting and alternative health are based on a TV commercial for margarine


In perhaps the ultimate irony, the contemporary natural parenting and alternative health movements are based on a TV commercial for margarine.

The tag line of the 1970’s commercial for Chiffon Margarine was “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”

Mother Nature tastes the margarine and declares that it is her “sweet, creamy butter.” When apprised that it is margarine, a processed food, she reacts with anger, punishing people by sending natural disasters. Although natural parenting and alternative health advocates would deny it, it is this view of nature, basically benevolent unless tricked by artificial substitutes, that animates the current natural parenting and alternative health movements.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Belief in benevolent nature is nothing more than a cultural construct.[/pullquote]

In other words, natural parenting and alternative health aren’t based on science; they’re based on a cultural construct lifted from a marketing campaign, a campaign that could only succeed among extraordinarily privileged people who have no knowledge of nature. Those who believe in them haven’t done their research; they’re just gullible.

Think about it:

The lactivist movement is absolutely certain that breastmilk is the perfect food because it is natural. Formula, a semi-artificial substitute, must be bad because it is an attempt to fool Mother Nature.

Natural childbirth advocates are sure that we should “trust birth” because it is natural. Interventions and C-sections are to be avoided and scorned because they are attempts to fool Mother Nature.

Anti-vaxxers are sure that vaccines must be harmful since they are so obviously attempts to fool Mother Nature. Natural immunity must be better.

Food-phobes are sure that the key to health is eating only food your grandmother would eat despite the fact that your grandmother’s generation had a shorter life expectancy and higher rates of death from cancers and disease than the current generation.

Only incredibly privileged people who have never been forced to rely on nature could actually believe such nonsense. In reality, “nature is red in tooth and claw.” Premature death — from starvation, predation, and violence —is a fundamental, ineradicable feature of the life all animals, and human beings are no exception.

Only the simple minded believe (consciously or unconsciously) that “fooling” Mother Nature with technological substitutes leads to natural calamities and that avoiding technology leads to health.

They prefer to ignore the fact that Nature is responsible for earthquakes, typhoons, snake bite and disease. They imagine Nature as a gentle breeze when it is in reality a heartless, selfish force, operating to the rhythm of its own rules and completely unconcerned with the wishes and hopes of human beings.

“Breast is best” is nothing more than a cultural construct, every bit as artificial as formula itself. The scientific truth is that breastmilk is NOT the perfect food for all human babies and even the most cursory knowledge of history makes that crystal clear. Breastmilk substitutes have been used since the beginning of recorded history and undoubtedly long before. If breastfeeding disappeared tomorrow, nearly every infant would survive in a world with easy access to formula. In contrast, if formula disappeared tomorrow literally millions of infants would sustain brain injuries and starve to death.

The injunction to “trust birth” is a cultural construct every bit as artificial as a C-section. The scientific truth is that childbirth is deadly for mothers and a 100X more deadly for babies. If starting tomorrow every baby were born by C-section and none by vaginal birth the rate of injury and death would be minuscule compared to the times and places when all babies were or are born vaginally.

The idea that “natural immunity” is superior to vaccine immunity is a cultural construct belied by the scientific and historical evidence. Natural immunity could not eradicate smallpox despite tens of thousands of years in the attempt. It only took the smallpox vaccine ten generations to wipe it from the face of the earth.

The belief that “natural” food is healthier than processed food ignores the fact that everything today, including our water, is processed to make sure it isn’t contaminated with deadly bacteria. It is the purity of food and water that ensures our health, not its resemblance to the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors (many of whom, like the Neanderthals, actually died out).

Nature is not benevolent and it cannot be controlled to become benevolent. Technology, in contrast, can be controlled and optimized for human benefit. It is not an accident that those with the greatest access to technology in food and health live the longest and have the best health outcomes in human history. Nature is just as happy to kill us as to nurture us. There’s nothing inherently good about nature and nothing inherently bad about technological substitutes.

In short, life is not a margarine commercial, not matter how easily natural parenting and alternative health advocates have been fooled into believing it.