We Are So Divorced From Nature Example 1: Moonlit Lavender

posted in: Ruminations | 3

A large factor in my quest to cook more was getting acquainted with the basics. I would say “back to” the basics, but given that I was born in Brooklyn and grew up in New Jersey, I didn’t have too much experience with nature aside from cooking store-bought ingredients now and then. It seemed worthwhile — and agreeable enough — to get “down and dirty” by cooking from scratch for a while. But the seedling for this idea was that, we are so divorced from nature.

So without further ado, a new series of rants contemplating this point from popular culture examples. First up: “Moonlit Lavender.” This is the trademarked name of a scent by Febreze. It’s advertised in TV and internet commercials as a sleep aid, and sold in an aerosol can (“bedroom mist”), a spray for your sheets (“bedding refresher”) and a wall attachment (“bedside diffuser”). Check out the commercial here.

Lavender has a longstanding reputation for its calming, relaxing aromatherapeutic qualities. It’s even said some dried buds were found in King Tut‘s tomb when it was opened in 1923. So it’s natural to want to summon the sleep-inducing effects of lavender in your bedroom. But you won’t get it from a spray can; that’s “Moonlit Lavender.”

Now, I love lavender — and moonlight, although you can’t really smell the moon, nor its light. To be fair, one can smell a bush of lavender that happens to be illuminated by the moon’s rays, say, while strolling through an English garden at midnight. The problem here is not so much the poetic hyperbole of the ad men, but the product itself. I don’t know what would make me sleep less easy than breathing in chemicals manufactured by the giant scent and flavor factories located along the New Jersey Turnpike, clogging the air in my room and soaking my pillows throughout the night. It’s not lavender, it’s a product. And who really knows what’s in the product since it’s okay to list the vague word, “fragrance” in its ingredients. But, you can get a clutch of real lavender to place beside your bed instead.

It’s easy to point the finger at artificial flavors and ingredients in food (because we all must, in some way, shape or form, eat food). But it’s just as prevalent to replace good, natural things in other household items — and still sell it on the virtues of lavender (or lemon, or pine). Why don’t we label things, “contains no real lavender,” etc? Well, because then we’d be admitting that a bunch of real lavender would do the intended job at least equally as well (and probably better). Fresh or dried lavender buds would probably cost less for the consumer anyway. It would alleviate the carbon-creating tolls of producing the Febreze product, the waste of the packaging, and the cost of marketing it. And call me hippy-dippy, but would you really spray this on your kid’s crib? Exactly. After all, we all must (in some way, shape or form) sleep.

3 Responses

  1. Mary @ Mary's Test Kitchen

    It’s SO true!!!!
    I think nowadays, people just do the most convenient thing. Isn’t it more convenient to pick up the Febreeze while at the grocery store than to track down a market to buy real lavender sprigs?

  2. Cathy Erway

    @Mary: Thanks! I know, I also lament that lavender sprigs aren’t as readily available as fresh carnation bouquets in any old market, but, if you look at plant nurseries, or anywhere with herb seedling trays, you should be able to find lavender pretty easily — plus, they grow alright throughout the year in a pot!

  3. Chez Pim

    And thanks so much to everyone else who voted but unfortunately did not win the raffle. (I didn’t win anything either, though I had my heart pretty set on the “fully-loaded shelf” of books from Serious Eats.) I am so glad to discover that food blog readers are such a generous, caring, noble bunch. Chez Pim raised $91,188 for The World Food Programme, 50% more than last year’s Menu for Hope — what a spike. I’m not sure how many people that sum will bring more food to, but if you ask me, cost calculator-wise, that’s a lot of food! So thanks again, everyone. Christine, shoot me a line and I’ll get the apron out to you. It might even come with a surprise in its pocket…

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