Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Assignment One

1a. The different motivations that drive Americans to make their food choices are not even what most Americans think they are. Most American say, I buy this or that because I like it, I think it tastes good. According to the books, many of our decisions are made because of marketing and convenience. Some are even made because of how we were raised.

b. My motivations to buy food are based in part on price, particularly when I'm on a budget. But more and more when I make food purchases, it is about how food tastes, how nutritious is it and will it cause me some sort of personal problems if I do eat it. I've got all sorts of digestive issues and really bad acid reflux disease. On top of that I'm lactose intolerant, so there are many things I'm not supposed to eat and many things that if I do, I regret it later. Sometimes I shop for food too out of convenience too, not only what is cheap for the here and now, but what I can get with the least amount of disruption to my day. I'm a single guy and there is a reason why single guys don't live as healthy of lives as married men. Who wants to cook a meal for one and then have leftovers? Plus, I live a fairly busy lifestyle, which means often times I forget to eat or I just don't want to take the time to do it, because of other more pressing things on my mind.

Another thing, personally, I'm trying to become more active, with my busy lifestyle and lose a few pounds from having not been active enough. That means eating better and more correctly is at the top of my list. But I'm pretty atypical as a person anyway, I research and study things all the time. As a professionally trained massage therapist, I take the time to know what is good and bad, so when I work with a client I can truly help them make correct decisions. That means I get tons of newsletters on health, I'm always reading about it online or in the news, I get a couple of magazines, I have books and I'm always on the lookout for anything related to health and wellness, whether it be books, magazines or something else. I get so much stuff, that I don't even scratch the surface of it all.

2a. The movie The Future of Food is one that raises many questions and I feel overall it does show a very pessimistic point of view, yet it ends with an optimistic overtone. This is the second time I have watched this film in a University Studies Class. In my first term at PSU, this last Spring we watched it in my Biology class because we were studying the controversies around GMO's (Genetically Modified Foods). Of course I felt the same then as I do now. It upsets me and really helps point out, just one more thing that is wrong with our current political system. Now the film overall was a bit biased in areas and there are perhaps other more optimistic approaches to being fair on all sides, but Truth is Truth... and some of these things are not just a matter of perspective. If we don't as a society pay attention to the things that are going on around us, like patenting of living organisms and the consequences of it, we may find ourselves facing a crisis when it is too late.

Lets face it, big corporate business is inherently evil by design. Imperfect people, that can be greedy, selfish and displaced in their moral ethics and values. This makes it easier for people with those qualities to avoid any real consequences and not think about anything other than the bottom line or their shareholders equity. If not ran with a strict set of morals and ethics and with someone or something to act as Quality Control it can quickly get out of control.

b. Yes, I do agree with Michael Pollan's suggestion that Organic Food is not overpriced. He hit the nail right on the head, that the costs are not just what you pay out of your pocket today. In business and in economics you always have to look at other costs associated with a project, project or service such as opportunity costs. The long term costs have to be added in and it is apparent that in our society there are many ills to our children, adults and even to the environment. It really comes down to perspective.

3. A cooperative business structure is a co-ownership, or larger partnership, where each member/owner of the cooperative has a say and it is ran with the Utopian ideal of all chiefs and all Indians. No one is higher or lower, everyone is equal and everyone's opinion counts. They cooperate, rather than dictate or rule from a single standpoint. This has many advantages and disadvantages, depending on how you look at it.

4. As for People's business model, I think they have a solid foundation to start from, but there is definitely room for improvement. The hardest part about answering this question, is it is too early to really say one way or the other. There are many concepts that are sound and very appealing, even unique, outside of cooperatives. Yet, it still seems that there are some limitations to the business model, that could prevent it from really growing. Yet, as I found in the first day, this is an answer we don't know yet. No one knows whether growth is even in the future of the cooperative ownership... and if so, what kind of growth.

5. Earthy, Organic, environmental, Community and Friendly, those are the main words that come to mind when I think of People's identity. It makes you feel welcome with everything in their literature, the store and even the people that work there. It is remarkably clean and there is a lot of pride in what people do.