WHOLE FOOD – WHOLE IDEALISM vs WHOLE PRAGMATISM:
In Business Practices, A Penny of Pragmatism is Better than a Pound of Idealism. As the saying goes, “One Man’s Meat is another Man’s Poison.” Nothing can be claimed to be ‘HEALTHY’ until man experiences the consequences of the food he consumes.
This article makes a pragmatic inquiry about the relationship between a consumer of food, the food retailer, and the phenomenon of healthy living.
Whole Foods only sells products that are “natural” which the Company defines as minimally processed foods free of hydrogenated fats as well as artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, and preservatives. Apart from selling fresh conventional and ‘organic’ fruits and vegetables, it offers prepared foods with “healthy” ingredients and clear labeling. Whole Foods specializes in products produced or grown locally, grass-fed meats, organic ‘free-range’ chicken, just-caught seafood and a variety of bakery items. ‘HEALTH’ magazine published by TIME Inc. Network had asked five nutritionists and a pediatrician to review 35 largest food retailers across the country and announced ‘America’s Healthiest Grocery Stores.” In her opinion, Ms. Kate Geagan, MS, RD, a nutrition consultant, Park City, Utah speaking about Whole Foods stated: “It’s the Rolls Royce of healthy eating.” Dr. Alan Greene, MD, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California, the chief panelist of HEALTH magazine’s study, confirmed that “Whole Foods has the Whole Package.” In his expert opinion about Whole Foods and its relationship to health of people, Dr. Greene claims, “The Store celebrates great, healthy food from start to finish.” It must be clearly recognized that Dr. Greene and his panel will not be able to publish their findings in any Medical or Science Journal. Such a report that grades grocery stores in terms of health value will be outright rejected for there is no observational evidence to support the claim. To make a cause and effect relationship between a food retailer and the health of a food consumer, the supporting evidence can only come not by simply looking at the products available for purchase at a given store but by making proper health assessments of the consumers over a period of time. Having won this endorsement from Health magazine and its panelists, Whole Foods has registered the phrase “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” as its TradeMark. In my view, the conclusions of the study conducted by HEALTH magazine lack the validity or objectivity of Science. The methodology used by the six panelists of HEALTH magazine does not involve measurement of objective criteria for assessment of health and there is no experimental verification and validation of their findings. This hypothesis, this mental concept of “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” must be tested, verified, and be validated without using the subjective experiences of the investigators. I am stating that for this “HEALTH” evaluation, data must be collected with precision, accuracy, and consistency after establishing objective standards for the observations. For the reasons that I mentioned, the study and the findings of the expert panel sponsored by HEALTH magazine have utterly failed to demonstrate a relationship between their claim and the observational evidence. Their conclusions about “America’s Healthiest Grocery Stores” would be mere conjecture, surmise, guesswork, or wishful thinking, or amounts to speculation for their judgment or estimate is not supported by actual knowledge or enough facts for certainty that concern the central issue of the health condition of people who consume food sold by the food retailers that are investigated.
While speaking about the relationship between food and life, it will be important to recognize the five dimensions of Life, namely; 1. the Physical dimension, 2. the Mental dimension, 3. the Social dimension, 4. the Moral dimension, and 5. the Spiritual dimension, which together constitute “Whole Life.” To define the term “Whole Food”, I would like to relate food to the five dimensions of “Whole Life.” My definition of “Whole Food” is as follows:
1. The substance that provides nourishment to maintain and sustain the living functions and thereby protects the Physical well-being of man,
2. The substance that provides the experience of mental contentment, and psychological satisfaction and thereby supports man’s Mental well-being,
3. The substance that provides the stimulus for social interactions, social relationships, and social bonding and thereby supports man’s Social well-being,
4. The substance that provides the ability to man to express his moral and ethical principles in making choices for his living and thereby contributes to man’s Moral well-being, and
5. The substance that provides the spiritual basis for man’s relationship with Divine Providence and thereby preserves man’s Spiritual well-being.
I would be happy if Whole Foods Market defines the term “FOOD” while it claims to be “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store.”
Whole Foods has launched a major national advertisement campaign to boost its brand name and highlight its groundbreaking quality standards. Whole Foods defined the campaign by its “VALUES MATTER ANTHEM.” Whole Foods is specifically asking people to know from where food comes from, what happens to food in its transit, trusting the source of food, fair treatment of people, animals, and places from where food comes from, the way food is grown, raised, or caught, and for a greater good that goes beyond selling food. It may be noted that in Science, if a thing is said to be true, Science explains as to why it is true. For example, as per the quality standards established by Whole Foods, its organic Quinoa could be healthy and nutritious. But, Cancer research indicates that dietary ‘polyamines’ are very important and the polyamine compounds such as spermine, spermidine, and putrescine found in food like Quinoa, Corn, or Grapefruit may accelerate the spread of Cancer. There is a demand to disclose the dietary ‘polyamine’ content of all kinds of foods and to include the information in the Nutrition Facts. As the saying goes, “One Man’s Meat is another Man’s Poison.”
Whole Foods is buying TV advertisements during network and cable shows such as The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Saturday Night Live Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live Show, ‘SCANDAL’, ‘MODERN FAMILY’, Thursday Night Football, and others. Whole Foods has shown a strong commitment to sustainable agriculture, supporting organic farmers, growers, its vendors, its suppliers, and the environment. Whole Foods has a preference to market products that are considered to be environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible. Whole Foods has formulated strictest quality standards for all the products that it sells and has evolved its guidelines for Animal Compassion, Sustainable Seafood, and Produce Production standards. While Whole Foods is engaged in promoting its idea or vision of raising the level of Food Consciousness, I would like to introduce to my readers the concept of ‘PRAGMATISM’.
William James is best known for his books, Principles of Psychology(1890), and Pragmatism(1907). Pragmatism is a method of philosophy in which the truth of a proposition is measured by its correspondence with experimental results and by its practical outcome. Pragmatism finds merit in ideas, policies, and proposals by using criteria such as their usefulness, workability, and practicality. Pragmatism stresses the priority of action over doctrine. Pragmatism places value on ‘experience’ and not upon ‘fixed principles’. For a Pragmatist, the Value of an Idea is borrowed from its Meaning and its consequences. Pragmatist derives truth by using the principle of validation which involves an investigation of the proper methods of procedure. Pragmatism claims that the fact of knowing includes information as to how the fact is known. For the meaning and the truth of any idea are functions of its practical outcome, all principles are to be regarded as working hypotheses and the principles may be changed as new information based upon experience becomes available. Thus pragmatists hold that truth is modified as discoveries are made and truth is relative to time and place and the purpose of inquiry. In the last few decades, medical experts have changed their opinions several times while discussing the relationship between human nutrition and health or well-being. Pragmatism prefers to determine the meaning and the truth of all concepts by their practical consequences. William James stated, “True ideas are those we can assimilate, validate, corroborate, and verify.” For James, true ideas are useful “leadings”, they lead through experience in ways that provide consistency, orderliness, and predictability. Scientific knowledge provides the knowledge to state something is true by sharing the reason why it is true.
The word ‘pragmatic’ (Latin. pragmaticus means skilled in business or law; Greek. pragmatikos, pragma means business) is concerned with actual practice, everyday affairs, being practical and etc., and hence not with dogma, doctrine, or speculation. In Linguistics, the branch called ‘Pragmatics’ is concerned with meaning in context, or the meaning of sentences in terms of the speaker’s intentions in using them. I would invite my readers to join in this conversation and I submit that the truth of an idea(“Healthiest Grocery Store”), or action(“Eat like an Idealist”) should be judged in terms of its outcome in practical human experience.