Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's All Natural

Pandamonium from the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe forum created this to put on a T-shirt.

It's the molecular structure of ethyl formate which is of course an organic compound.

Why? It's pointing out the rather frivolous contemporary use of the term "organic". Organic used to have two basic meanings: a form of matter that is or once was part of a living thing, and chemical compounds based around carbon. By these definitions, both cyanide and propane are organic.

This is a cute little reminder that definitions can vary and just because something says "organic" it doesn't mean its healthy. By placing a rather unpleasant chemical with the comforting term, attention is drawn to their relationship and (hopefully) generates a conflict within the viewer that needs to be internally resolved.

Thanks for making us think Panda.


  1. Gotta get me some of that organic meat :) ... but in fairness, and ignoring those who use it solely manipulate consumers, the term worked its way into our everyday vernacular honestly. Walter James coined the term "organic farming" in the '40s. His ideology saw the farm as an organism ... so a holistic approach. Ah, I am suddenly nostalgic for the '70s. Janet

  2. I'm curious what inorganic meat would taste like.

    I think that's the amusing implication with the "Organic" Label as it implies that everything without that label somehow lacks that property.

    I think SMBC illustrated this very well.


  3. Yes ... and sadly it works.