Grocery Store Guru

All about the grocery industry, from a store level perspective.

When did food become like religion?

Or like Politics?

What I’m about to say may offend some people… what I’m hoping is that it may cause some people to take a step back and realize what they sound like and why it shouldn’t be acceptable.

I like information, and I like opinions. Even more, I like to see and hear informed discussion between two different points of view. Most of the time, even a well constructed argument isn’t going to bring people on the other side over to your side – most of the time we just agree to disagree. What it does do is allow poeple on different sides of an issue to see where the other side is coming from – maybe create some understanding, even if there is a difference of opinion. These discussions can also give important information to people that are somewhere in the middle, and allow them to form an informed point of view as well. Opinions are great, as long as they’re offered with respect.

What drives me nuts is people that proselytize.

If you’re going into a discussion convinced that the other point of view is 100% incorrect and they must be brought to your side, and you’re willing to say whatever it takes to do so, this means you. How else can you tell?

 

1. You’re willing to attack the person, not the point of view. If you hear someone say anything along the lines of “I don’t understand how someone can think like that” or “most people think that” (implying “how can you not think this way too?”), they’re attacking the person with the opinion instead of offering any inspired debate. If your opinion has merit, let it stand on it’s own.

Food related instances: “I can’t believe anyone doesn’t eat organic vegetables. Don’t they know what they’re doing to their body?” or “We’re not meant do drink another animal’s milk… people that give their kids cow’s milk are hurting their children.” Or any one of a thousand lines I hear or see every day. Instead, try “I eat organic vegetables because I read some scary stuff about <fill in the blank>” and “I don’t give my kids milk anymore, and here’s why…”

 

2. Very similar to the above… if you find that your arguments are start with “you should…” or “you must…” stop right there. Focus on what the opinion means to you, not on what it should mean to someone else. The idea of an informed discussion is to put forth ideas and facts, not to win over the person on the other side.

 

3. Any overly passionate arguments. You should be appealing to the rational intellect of other people, not the base emotion. We all react to emotional ideas and arguments, it’s part of the human condition. If you’re argument has no other merit, perhaps you should rethink entering into any kind of debate. For example, a vegan trying to defend their position against a group of carnivores had better be able to put forth a better argument than “I like animals, and I can’t believe you want to shoot something so cute…”. For the record, there are far better arguments for veganism and vegetarianism than that! But even if that is your own personal reasoning, there’s nothing wrong with that either. It’s probably best you pick your battles, though.

 

4. Understand that your situation is different than someone else’s situation, and that means their priorities are likely different, too. One of my favourites is the whole processed food debate that is forever going on in one forum or another. It usually starts with someone asking what brand of product x is good, and someone else piping up that you should really be making that kind of stuff at home anyways, “I do it at home, it’s really easy! Why would you buy that?” I do understand the argument, but if you just said that to a mother of 3 kids that works a part time job in the day (to be home with the kids before and after school) and then works full time overnight while they’re sleeping, and just wants to get the kids fed, you’re likely to get a verbal punch in the face. And I see it happen all the time! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “it’s really easy, you just have to make time… ” I have 5 kids, all 7 years old or under, and I own a small business. You’re lucky I can’t even “make the time” to tell you how ridiculous you’ve made yourself look, or how you’ve taken all credibility out of your point of view.

I’m going to extend this one, because there’s another angle I see far too often… it’s often used when people are presenting the benefits of organics, or natural cleaners and the like. One of the biggest pushbacks will always be the added cost of these products (and rightfully so). The response “you can find the extra money somewhere” or “you just have to tighten your belt” or “don’t you think you’re worth it”  are not acceptable, for any of the reasons stated above. Once again, if you’ve just given that response to someone that spends 3 hours a day commuting on the bus because they can’t justify spending money on a car right now, your point of view has lost any merit it had. Just acknowledge the fact (it is true, isn’t it?) and tell the truth… for my wife (whom I have this argument with all the time!), she simply says she thinks it worth it. Who can argue with that?

 

Well, there it is folks – from my point of view. Most people think the way that they do things (including eat!) is the best way… that’s why they do it that way. And there’s nothing wrong with sharing your opinion. But with a little care, you can avoid offending the person with a differing viewpoint. Even more importantly, avoid driving away the people in the middle (who may silently be reading what you’re saying) by looking like the militant fringe instead of a viable option.

April 19, 2012 Posted by | Viewpoint | 1 Comment