I've been extremely happy with the candid and generally constructive dialog here at Casual Kitchen since my last two posts on The Worst Lie of the Food Blogosphere, and The "It's Too Expensive to Eat Healthy Food" Debate.*
But I feel I must respond to the most common objection I'm seeing to these two posts, which can essentially be reduced to the following three-part syllogism. Here's the logic that I'm seeing from commenters:
1) Casual Kitchen claims that people have power over their decisions about food.
2) However, there are people out there who don't have power, choices or options (examples: schoolkids who don't have a say in what their school serves them for lunch, people who live in inner cities, people with limited means or limited education, etc.)
3) I have no power. I should go back to wringing my hands and feeling bad about the current state of the food industry and take no action.
This, dear readers, is what they call a false syllogism. Don't generalize from the exceptions. There are exceptions to everything in the food industry, and there will always be people who, for whatever reason, are unable or unwilling to make good choices.
But don't let this fact fool you into giving up your power to help drive the food industry in the right direction. The real question is, what choices are you going to make with the power that you have?
Let's tackle some of the details of this syllogism one by one: First, when it comes to schoolkids, how powerless are they, really? What about this powerful post about middle school students from New Orleans who convinced their superintendent to change his foodservice contract to include fresh, local produce at least twice a month? And what about the high school students from Vermont who advocated for--and got--local vegetables on their menus at school?
Hmmmm. Maybe schoolkids aren't quite as powerless as we assume. And if they can take power into their own hands and bring about positive change, why are we using them as just another reason to whine?
Furthermore, there are lots of people with limited means and limited education who manage to cook exceptionally healthy meals for very little money. I know this because many of these people are regular readers of this blog. And, as commenter Consciously Frugal said, to presume other people are powerless smacks of condescension.
Look, I'm not trying to make the case that the food industry in its current state is some kind of a fantasy land. Anyone can see that it's not.
But my point is this: What good does it do to complain? Instead, ask yourself this: what are you going to do about your food industry, given your situation and the range of choices available to you right now?
That's how to address a situation from a position of power. That's what I'm getting at when I encourage my readers to take power back into their own hands rather than giving it away by whimpering and complaining about Big Food.
If there is any concept that you MUST understand after reading this post, it's that you have the power. You can make a difference in the world by acting on your power and only buying the products that have real value from the stores that you believe are worthy of your business.
I'll say it once again: if we took these steps, the food industry would break its own back bending over backwards to meet our demands.
Until then, however, we will get the food industry we whine about.
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