ChewsWise Blog

ChewsWise Blog

Desire, not Guilt, to Do (or Eat) the Right Thing

Mark Powell over at BlogFish had a very interesting post on the role of desire - rather than guilt - in getting consumers aboard the sustainable seafood cause.

We tell stories of impending crisis so they’ll stop out of fear, or wetry to make rules that stop the damage by denying people their desires. Conserve water or we’ll run out and you won’t be able to flush your toilet! Stop driving your SUV or we’ll all cook together on a warming earth! Etc., you’ve heard it before.

It’s a reasonable way to go, but it isn’t working. And perhaps even worse, it creates problems for the environmental movement. It casts us as the enemies of human desire, not a good role to be in.

Mark's essay speaks to a broader issue that food advocates confront, which involves changing habits. And the best way that can be done is by creating new desires - whether for new (sustainable) fish they haven't yet eaten, fresh local food, slow food or what have you. But I imagine the purveyors of guilt won't be happy with this message. I'm not sure I'm convinced either.

Maybe the point is, convincing people takes desire (a taste of that rich dark, fair trade, organic chocolate bar) but it works especially well when people see the flip side (of child laborers picking cocoa in the Ivory Coast).

- Samuel Fromartz