This is the final part of a six-part series on Casual Kitchen’s core principles. Find the beginning of this series here.
Core Principle #6: Be An Empowered Consumer
Despite what you might think from most media coverage of the food industry, there's no grand conspiracy out there to make us all fat. There's no smoky back room filled with evil Mr. Burns-type executives plotting schemes to screw the consumer. Even the euphemism "Big Food" itself is an artificial construct of the media designed to make the food industry seem more all-powerful and evil than it really is.
The real truth is we consumers choose all of the foods on our store shelves because we make the final decision to buy or not buy. Foods that don't sell don't survive in the marketplace. Big Food cannot sell us any food without our direct consent.
Sadly, the previous statement Big Food cannot sell us any food without our direct consent, as excruciatingly obvious as it is to Casual Kitchen readers, is considered an outright lie by many food pundits. It's awfully easy to submit to conspiracy theories if you decide to give your power over to them.
Note, however, that my goal in this post isn't to convince you that Big Food is good or evil. Instead, my goal is to get you to think about the nature of your beliefs: about the food industry, the consumer products industry, or about the entire world around you for that matter. I want you to adopt beliefs that empower you as a consumer.
Let's talk about beliefs and power for a moment. The fascinating thing about our beliefs is how surprisingly self-fulfilling they are. This is especially true for beliefs about our personal capabilities. If you believe you can't learn French, you'll be right. If you believe healthy food has to be expensive, you'll also be right. If you believe consumers are hopelessly outmatched by the power and the money of the food industry, you will be right.
This self-fulfilling nature of many of our beliefs has some severe implications. Believe it or not, (heh) it suggests that the selection of your beliefs is more important than the observable truth of those beliefs. Furthermore, once we adopt a belief, our brains tend to notice evidence supporting that belief, and ignore evidence contrary to that belief.
This is why it is essential for us to select empowering beliefs over disempowering beliefs. If we decide to believe the statements "Big Food is too powerful for the average person" or "I have no power as a consumer" there is a high likelihood that these beliefs will be self-fulfilling.
In short, then, believing you have no power is literally an act of giving away your power.
Needless to say, I don't want disempowered readers. I want you, my dear readers, to take your power and use it to live better, to eat better, and to set an example of empowerment for your family and peers.
And here's where we tie together all of Casual Kitchen’s core concepts. It all starts with you and the specific beliefs you select. I want readers to believe they can learn the true nature and rhythm of food and consumer products retailing. Those readers will be able to find the best values in food and in their retail purchases. Likewise, I want readers to believe that healthy food can be laughably cheap. Those readers will be open to ideas like part time vegetarianism, and they'll be perfectly positioned to find exactly the kinds of scalable and inexpensive recipes that meet their needs.
I want consumers to believe, deeply, that we, not Big Food, have all the power, because we are the ones willingly choosing the foods and products we buy. Those consumers will be in the best possible position to make informed, empowered and financially savvy consumption decisions.
Once again, everything hinges on which a priori beliefs you choose. Go ahead: feel free to choose a set of limiting beliefs if you like. Just know that those beliefs will likely be self-fulfilling. Which means you'll be hiding under a metaphorical blanket, all fearful and disempowered in the face of Big Food, while millions of other consumers with more empowering belief sets are actively applying effective strategies to eat healthy and live well for less money and less time.
Fear and powerlessness are feelings. I cannot convince you that your feelings don't exist. But understand that most of our power--in the world of food as well as in every other life domain--derives from the beliefs we hold about that power. So… do we take our power? Or do we give it away? Which will you choose?
How to Give Away Your Power By Being a Biased Consumer
The Sad, Quiet Death of Campbell's Low-Sodium Soup
The Food Industry Should Only Sell Bad Tasting Food
Do You Let Yourself Be Manipulated To Buy?
Survivor Bias: Why "Big Food" Isn't Quite As Evil As You Think It Is
Next up! Casual Kitchen's Core Principles: Full Archive
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Posted by Daniel at 3:11 AM on Friday, June 13, 2014