Friday, August 17, 2007

Perfectionism


The difference between a mechanic world and an organic world is demonstrated in food producer's inability to produce the ' perfect' apple, potatoe, cucumber etc. As consumers we demand a perfect apple, we expect it to be all the same size, because after all that is what we can buy in the shops. Because we buy the ' mechanic' apple in the shops, the supermarket argues that that is exactly what the consumer wants and therefore puts pressure on the producer to create an apple that is of a certain type, certain volume, mass, weight etc. There are practical considerations for this arguably, in that the ' perfect' apple will sit amongst other perfect apples in a space that has been designed in the perfect box leading to perfect transportation, perfect condition, optimal temperature., perfect display and perfect profit...you get the idea. Question : Does the perfect apple meet your tastebuds expectations.

Notice my amazement to be given a basket full of organic apples. They come from the same tree yet, they are different sizes, some have blemishes and some are looking decidedly wonky, off centre as if they have been grown on branches and in some way had to compete. ( I am being sarcastic).

Perfectionism takes effort, huge effort and energy.
Perfect produce expectation sets the producer and consumer up for continuous rejection and self-putdowns--and deny peace of mind--because demanding perfection usually results in failure. And even if the producer achieves an exceptional result, chances are that the supermarket will still be unhappy, as they will find additional reasons for the produce not being good enough. That's the destructive nature of perfectionism and that's why it destroys self-esteem and enthousiasm in producers.Nothing is ever good enough. The supermarkets however will say that this is what the ' perfect consumer' demands. Is that you?

Remember, being a perfectionist may paralyze our future chances of success and variety in the produce available locally because producers and growers eventually fear taking any new actions that might produce an imperfect result. Preventing perfectionism begins by saying no to unreasonably high demands that produce failure and self-contempt. The new way of thinking requires producers to choose goals that are easier to achieve and are within the realm of local possibilities. Moderating expectations--stopping a focus on faults and flaws--and instead looking at variety and locally produced food enables producer's performance and self-esteem to soar.With that comes the fact that a relationship between producer and consumer can be restored.

I came to realise that the voice of the supermarket saying I demanded the ' perfect apple' cost me a choice in a variety to my tastebuds so now, I try not to judge the apple by its colour and shape only but to deliver my final verdict when I have given it the ultimate consumer test : when it hits my tastebuds, when I can enjoy its flavour, its scent and its taste. Even a smaller size apple which initially may not seem perfect, can reach parts of my tastebuds that others in their perfection have eroded. An apple that has ripened on the tree and is picked fresh and bitten into is an indescribable experience which could become the norm. Lets turn perfect on its head, lets say no to the mechanic apple and embrace the challenge of looking at an apple and thinking, wow, I wonder what it tastes like instead of going on looks alone.

Briefly describe one purchase or part of your life in which you would like to be less perfectionistic. What are some specific ways that you could moderate your goals in that particular situation/area? What consequences might follow from such changes?

3 comments:

Willow said...

Tomatoes! Actually I am on my way there. I get organic and heirloom tomatoes each week from my sil. I am exploring all those tomato flavors.

Gillybean said...

We are pretty brainwashed aren't we? Just last week I rejected slightly frost damaged brassicias in my own garden in favour of the slightly immature perfect looking ones. We live in an area whose economy is based on apple growing. So much energy is wasted in creating those perfect looking apples for the overseas market. Thanks again for making me think.

Downshiftingpath said...

Thanks for the comments, the post was inspired by a basket full of apples and I found myself rejecting half of them because they did not look right....on further reflection, I felt sad that brainwashing seemed to have been at such a deep level again. Then again, society as it is takes looks very seriously.