Choices. There are thousands of them in our daily lives, and I would venture to guess hundreds of those are related to food.
Earlier this week, I read a very thoughtful blog post that is worth a read from Jeni Flaa at Jeni Eats. Jeni is a food blogger from Northern Iowa, and I love to read her posts for a few reasons (1) I enjoy her sense of humor, (2) I too love food adventures, everything from dive bars to home cooking experiments, and (3) it takes me back to my Northern Iowa roots. In her “Food Snob” post, she exams her past as a food snob and thoughtfully explores how we make others feel about their food choices.
Jeni’s post struck a chord with me because I’ve been that food snob too. Like Jeni, in my college years and shortly after, I was at the peak of my snobbery. As I navigated the world of being on my own in the “big city,” and making my own decisions, I had many an opinion on the food people should or should not be eating and I wasn’t afraid to share it. Flash forward to today. I am on the producing end of the food chain, and learning more and more about the food supply. I’m also getting older and gaining a bit more perspective on life (I like to think!).
With that background, get ready . . . I have more thoughts that I’m not afraid to share! 🙂
In a world with a multitude of food decisions, my food choices are not your food choices and yours are not mine. These days, sometimes I eat local, sometimes I just want an Egg McMuffin, sometimes I buy organic, sometimes I buy Kraft macaroni and cheese. Do any of these choices make me a superior person to someone choosing the opposite? NO.
I make my food choices based on a variety of reasons: cost, taste, availability, time, etc. Someone else may make their decisions based primarily on cost. Someone else may make their decisions primarily based their personal morals. Does this mean the person making decisions based on their personal morals should impose their choices onto the person that is focusing on cost? NO.
As customers, we should embrace the wide variety of choices our sophisticated food system allows us to have and we should refrain from judging the food choices of others and imposing our choices on to someone else. These choices are personal in so many ways.
As food producers, we should support all producers . . . even those who don’t produce food exactly like we do. I have been around a groups of “conventional” farmers who get defensive or snarky when you mention organic or grass-fed. The same is sometimes true when smaller producers talk about “industrial agriculture.” Choices about why you operate how you do are also personal in so many ways.
Just because our choices are personal, doesn’t mean we should shy away from talking about them. It is healthy and productive for people to be open about their choices and share information on why they make the decisions they do. In return, you must be willing to listen to the information provided by others about their decisions (even if you disagree). These conversations breed respect when approached thoughtfully and informatively. The moment judgment sneaks into the picture . . . defensiveness creeps in and the meaningful engagement will probably be lost.
That’s my food for thought on this Friday (pun intended). I will leave you a takeaway wisely identified by Jeni,
“It’s not our food preferences that made us a food snob, it’s how we make others feel about theirs.” – Jeni Flaa
Happy Friday friends!