Now that Christmas is behind us (hmmm…Christmas past)…many of us have begun to focus on – maybe even commit to – projects we’ll devote our attention to in the New Year – 2015.
For me, lifestyle issues and concerns – health, diet, exercise – consistently surface to the top of my New Year “resolutions” list. In 2014, I began to embark on a more careful evaluation of items I eat and take into my body. During 2015, that vigilance will continue… only at a much deeper level – more label reading and ingredient understanding – research, education, etc.
As I sit here sipping my basic tea, I reflect on the contents of that tea as well as the words and thoughts shared in past blogs. Embarking on my goal of delving deeper into reading and understanding food product contents and the nature and constituency of specific items within those products will not be an easy task. For me, eating consciously (to achieve maximum health) has always been a challenge…and has never been as simple as “eating low on the food chain.” Plus, as so eloquently shared by Jon Stewart (February 20, 2014 The Daily Show)…selecting old-time favorite brands may not lead us down a positive path…
As more details become available about the food and food “products” we each consume, three words – that contain very critical concepts – occupy my mind – TRUST, INTEGRITY and VALUES.
For example, when we travel by airplane…we simply purchase our ticket, enter the plane, stash our carry-ons and settle into our seats. Most of us pay more attention to our seat location than we do to becoming acquainted with the pilot and/or co-pilot. Do you even know who’s sitting up there in the cockpit? Do you know what their education or credentials are? Have you ever asked to see their resume? Not likely! That might be because we innately TRUST in the airline company we’ve chosen. We TRUST they have INTEGRITY and VALUES that align with our own.
We tend to take that same posture or attitude of TRUST with many other aspects of our lives – including what we consume.
Perplexed by these issues surrounding TRUST and INTEGRITY – especially as they pertain to food and food products – I embarked on a discussion with a friend (Professor Alan Slinkard who teaches among other things ethics classes) over breakfast and asked for his professional as well as personal thoughts…below are his comments…
Viewed from a purely human perspective, this approach seems reasonable – one grounded in an assumption that all parties take a responsible path and are solidly grounded and in agreement with a universal definition of TRUST. From an ethically based vantage point, however, this explanation falls short.
If one considers the airline example you shared – one has to wonder why doctors, attorneys – even cab drivers – hang up a sign touting their credentials; yet pilots – transporting us across many miles (via both land and sea) – do not recognize, honor or feel obliged to do the same.
TRUST – in ethical circles – is based on the concept of a “relational premise– one rooted in (or emphasizing) familiarity. Great, you might say…however, how does one go about establishing and developing those relationships – what’s the process; what’s involved?
In the field of personal ethics the process originates with the individual. However, like most activities connected with the routines of life, many of us become complacent…allowing others to influence – even make – our choices. In doing so, we permit outside influences (and influencers) to determine (even dictate) our values. Essentially, we relinquish responsibility and defer to those who claim to be “in the know” – marketers, manufacturers and the media! These entities place themselves in the role and function as proxies within our decision making process – seducing us to be drawn into a false sense of TRUST – one presumed to have been created and nurtured through familiarity.
In our undiscerning willingness to succumb to “external”authorities,” we give food manufacturers, taste agents and a myriad of others carte blanche. We allow them to become the “experts. In reality, we need to remind ourselves of the goal – to live a full and enriched life…to please ourselves. We are the ones who hold the keys to our own VALUE structure.
Given this explanation, I asked Professor Slinkard if he would consider the three words – TRUST, INTEGRITY, and VALUES – I’ve been contemplating and that launched me into writing this and other blogs about business and lifestyle – food, diet, and health.
In my opinion, TRUST is earned. Far too many examples exist that demonstrate that the food and food products industry has not earned that TRUST…and is actually failing us – tainted food product recalls, inappropriate treatment of animals and deceptive responses, unwarranted inclusion of unreliable, toxic additives, etc. (read: “How Did Carrageenan Get into Your Organic Food Anyway?”
For me, INTEGRITY literally speaks to “putting one’s money where one’s mouth is.” In doing what is “right” (ethically correct and moral) when advised or confronted with shortcomings or failings, the “man” of INTEGRITY arrives with solutions…not excuses. Being able to TRUST those who provide products and services – especially in the food and health care industries – enables us to comfortably journey through life with peace of mind…knowing it all begins with each of US.
Hmmm…I guess, for me, that leaves only that tiny 5-letter word (packing a powerful punch) to ponder – TRUST…
Here’s what Professor Slinkard shared with me on the subject:
First, we each need to identify exactly what it is we seek?
Do we merely desire to get from point A to point B?
- to eat until we are satisfied;
- to get just enough from our healthcare provider to live a comfortable existence;
- to receive legal advice without question?
If we select these options, we can then be assured of blindly granting or handing over TRUST to another…thus, removing ourselves from any sense of responsibility over decisions that directly (and sometimes adversely) influence and impact our lives.
Do we VALUE specific aspects and items in life…such as…
- how we spend our time for that precious period of time we occupy planet earth…
- whether we live a healthy life or one ridden with chronic illness (from sources claimed to be unidentifiable).
If we choose these options, we must then inject ourselves back into the equation. We must question, demand accountability and select individuals, services, and products that truly represent and reflect our own VALUES.
Taking charge means asserting one’s VALUES…and not being influenced, persuaded or deluded into thinking others can dictate or direct our decisions or our lives. It means taking back the power from others to assert our own VALUES…to make demands and choices that positively affect and impact us – our health, well-being, attitude, spirit. The choices we make may or may not change the way food product manufacturers, for example, do business – they are in business to generate profits. What does matter is where we focus – on our own VALUES.
Thanks to my research and my conversation with Professor Slinkard, I now ponder some of the following questions that I hope will help me focus…
- What do I hold most dear…what do I truly believe in? These represent MY VALUES….
- Do I make choices based on those VALUES or do I allow others to influence (manipulate coerce, etc.) my choices?
- Do the choices I make allow me to journey through my day feeling confident (and comfortable)? If so, have I made the best choice for ME (and my family).
In the end…choice always begins with the individual. The criteria or basis used to make decisions is within and available to each of us. By knowing, understanding, and acting upon even the smallest choice according to what we believe – without undue influence or imposition – allows our power to be engaged through those VALUES. Making conscious decisions directly places the power in our hands (and at our purse strings).
Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK (and A.W. Slinkard)
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock