‘Chemophobia’ is irrational, harmful – and hard to break

Chemophobia lab.jpg
Kiran Foster/Flickr

We all feel a profound connection with the natural world. E O Wilson called this sensation biophilia: ‘the urge to affiliate with other forms of life’. That sense of connection brings great emotional satisfaction. It can decrease levels of anger, anxiety and pain. It has undoubtedly helped our species to survive, since we are fundamentally dependent on our surrounding environment and ecosystem. But lately, biophilia has spawned an extreme variant: chemophobia, a reflexive rejection of modern synthetic chemicals.

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2 thoughts on “‘Chemophobia’ is irrational, harmful – and hard to break

  1. Hi James Is it correct that organic foods (supposedly non-chemical) have a “higher vibration” than inorganic foods? I know this is not exactly a scientific term, and comes across as “flakey” however I follow a personal development guru, and listened to her response from a guy wanting to know which food was better out of the two. Her reply was along the lines of stick to the food with less chemicals and that the organic foods have a “higher vibration”. I guess she was referring to the energy field around the food, although I am no expert on that concept! So….at the risk of coming across a tad flakey for even asking this I always like to get an expert and scientific take….so would you mind humouring me please and give me your take on this:)

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    1. Hi Mary. I have never heard of any of the concepts mentioned in your comment and I have a masters degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge! I think the guru is probably misinformed on the “higher vibrations” point. Probe deeper: ask the guru to clarify what she means by “higher vibrations”.

      I suggest she means “gives you a feel-good vibe” rather than “has a higher vibration”. It’s true that many people feel that eating organic food is a morally superior choice. A massive meta-analysis in roughly 2012 concluded there’s essentially no difference in nutritional content or in the effect on the body between organic and conventional food.

      I hope this helps!

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