Natural: The Seductive Myth of Nature’s Goodness by Alan Levinovitz; The Natural Health Service: What the Great Outdoors Can Do for Your Mind by Isabel Hardman - review by Richard Smyth

Richard Smyth

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Natural: The Seductive Myth of Nature’s Goodness

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Profile 272pp £20 order from our bookshop

The Natural Health Service: What the Great Outdoors Can Do for Your Mind

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Atlantic 336pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

At the outset of Alan Levinovitz’s profound, thoughtful and wide-ranging exploration of the ‘natural’, the author stakes out a middle ground between ‘the orthodoxies of nature worship’ and the categorical dismissal of all appeals to natural goodness (an ‘equally pernicious form of faith’). One might be forgiven for wondering at this point how such common-sense even-handedness can be sustained across some three hundred pages, but Levinovitz confounds these doubts by demonstrating how entrenched the false dichotomy of ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ is in 21st-century discourse, far beyond the obvious battlegrounds of, say, food and healthcare.

This is an entertaining book when Levinovitz is dealing with far-out quackery – the Deepak Chopra-endorsed Delos® Wellness Real Estate™, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop brand (‘purchasing their products … is itself a purifying ritual’), the startling overlap between the carnivory (meat-only) and Bitcoin communities – and a thought-provoking one when the

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