Sunday, August 03, 2008

organic produce trend consultant

caution: a bit of a rant ahead (but at least i'm inspired to blog again!)

it's not a new notion--"you are what you eat." and i've long looked askance and perhaps a tad judgmentally at what the person ahead of me in the grocery line places on the belt, but now it's confirmed by a study conducted by a danish "future researcher" (i want to be one of those, or maybe an "idea consultant," but more about that later).

according to this woman, who has her own company devoted to this so-called "future research"--firstmove--what we eat and drink says a whole lot about us. these are decisions we make on a daily basis, not a one-time investment like a car or a home. we make lifestyle choices every day as we troll the aisles of our grocery stores. and apparently companies are very interested in these lifestyle choices.

the study looks at three groups--the young (20-35 years), families with children and 50+. the study thus far suggests that food reflects our lifestyle in general in a different way than it did 10-15 years ago. a lot more environmental awareness has come into the picture. this sounds excellent to me. all three groups they looked at had high requirements with regard to organic foods because all three associate organic with quality. although, all three are increasingly aware that organic doesn't always mean quality, especially the "first movers." they are, as i understand it, a sort of leading edge consumer. this way, companies who buy firstmove's study can anticipate market trends and try to provide accordingly.

reading this, naturally got me thinking. wondering if we are "first movers" in our market. when i look at what i'm putting on the belt at the grocery store, i feel like i must be, but am i not at the mercy of the purchasing dude at the grocery store and what s/he makes available to me? it's the old chicken or the egg, isn't it? do i make the choices i do because they're what's there or is it because i want that organic chicken, eggs, milk, yogurt that it's there? how does this really work? who is really in the driver's seat?

there is a lot more talk about organic food and locally-produced food in the air these days. books like barbara kingsolver's wonderful animal, vegetable, miracle and all kinds of companies who will deliver you a box of organic, locally produced veg on a weekly basis, more and more organically-produced wines and olive oils on the shelves. all of which indicates a trend towards more awareness of our food supply. and it's about time too!

but, from what i can see as i look around in the grocery store, there are far too many people who haven't gotten the message. i see people piling on sodas and chips and ready-made meals (which were practically non-existent when i came to denmark ten years ago). and i find myself silently judging them. and feeling decidedly superior as i put fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and radishes and cabbages and mushrooms and organic ground beef and an organic chicken in my basket. i will actually skip the milk or go to another store to get it if my usual store is out of organic milk. i don't really want any other milk in my refrigerator or in my family. i even know which gas station always has organic milk and bike out of my way to get it if we're out of milk on a sunday morning.

we do decide who we want to be with the food choices we make--healthy, organic, local (supporting local farmers is always good), animal-conscious (only eggs from chickens that get to lead a proper chicken life), tree-hugging (i always take my own cloth bags), environmentally-conscious. at our house, we even make political choices--for example, avoiding produce from israel until they start being nice to the palestinians. granted, israel probably doesn't notice, but it makes us feel better. but eating foods that haven't had to travel halfway across the world in a 20-foot container (my livelihood aside) also TASTE better, so we're making a taste choice as well.  our time is precious, so the time we spend making food should be worth it, i definitely don't want to use bad quality ingredients.

anyway, back to this notion of calling oneself a "future researcher." what is up with all of these made-up professions? isn't it ok to simply be a researcher anymore? you have to inflate it with "future, " to make it seem trendy and cool? and speaking of trends, i've also seen the title "trend researcher." and i have also seen someone called an "idea consultant" in my newspaper. on that one, i contacted my sister immediately and said we should definitely start an idea consulting business. $100 for small ideas and $1000+ for really good ones. although we may have to up those prices what with the value of the dollar these days. because, of course, our ideas remain brilliant and valuable. :-) 

in my previous job, i was contacted by a woman who said she was a "podcasting consultant." i had a look at her website and it seemed that she simply made audio recordings as mp3s and put them on a website. i guess it was made a podcast by the fact of listening to it on an iPod. hmm, i have about 10 iPods myself, so i guess i could do up a set of business cards that say "iPod expert" or something like that. please, people. get real! and feed your family locally-produced organic food that you carry home in a cloth bag (preferably one you made of old jeans or something equally recycling-minded). :-)

ok, i'm done now. don't we all wish i was still having the blog blahs?


hele said...

I agree one hundred percent. Both on your ideas about food and consultants.

We have some horrible developmental consultants over here who specialise in coming up with "sustainable" projects for poor communities.

If I did not have to spend the next couple of days finishing off an essay, I would be ranting on my blog about it right now.

enchantedartist said...

:):)...Okay, first...I did that meme...and second,as I sit here drinking my organic, Free Trade coffee I am more than glad that you don't have the blogging blahs anymore. I have totally enjoyed this post. I am one of those tree-hugging organic mamas too!

My frustration does come from the fact that where we live our choices are very limited. In our little town we have a very small grocery store that doesn't carry organic anything.So...if you drive to the next city (15 mins.)I'm totally taking my chances that they will have what I need. Sometimes they have organic milk...sometimes they don't. They used to carry lots of organic they don't. So you brought up a good point at being at the mercy of the store buyers. Why aren't they bringing in organic apples anymore?
My only other option is to contend with traffic, and an hours drive to the BIG city to go the large organic food mart. I've done it, but it's just not practical.

It's this time of year that I am very thankful for my garden. Raspberries...peas...carrots...lettuce...yum.

I think now I'll go and ponder what kind of 'expert' I can be...

Have a great day!

Tilly said...

I was listening to the radio and they were interviewing an 'image consultant'. I figured this must be a PR type person employed by celebrity types. Turned out to be someone who helped you choose clothes in the department store in town! As wife, mother and 'chief cook and bottle-washer' I guess I qualify for the title of Domestic Consultant! Oh, and I did your meme!

Jaime said...

Great post. I too, make many of the same decisions regarding food as you do. I especially love this time of year, when we can get many fresh foods locally. Just a ten minute walk from here, there are several farms that sell their produce on the side of the road, infront of their properties. It's wonderful.
As for milk...I switched to organic milk immediately after I saw this documentary on what REALLY goes into our milk...was so gross! Now I've gone off milk completely and use other alternatives.
I'm one that has made small changes over time...but these changes are like a domino effect, that just keeps inspiring me to do more.

Barb said...

Julie, What an interesting post. I too have found myself looking at what goes out of other shoppers' carts and then judging them for what they are eating.

Maybe the tables should be turned on me for a moment where they are judging me; to remind me that I AM NOT PERFECT.

Thanks for this post and gentle reminder that my decision to eat clean, whole food is my choice and that others have the right to eat what they choose as well. B