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..And Food For Thought: The Power of Personal Choice?

The Intersection
By Sheril Kirshenbaum
Jul 24, 2007 10:44 PMNov 5, 2019 10:17 AM


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I continue to believe that personal decisions do have an impact through collective action. With regard to the sea bass, no, I didn't stand up to make a scene or ridicule the organizers for their meal selection (they likely had no idea of the culinary faux pas). Here's what I did: I declined the fish. While I didn't seek to influence everyone in the room (for how could I establish the credibility to do so quickly enough among a crowd that large?), I did notice that the folks at my table were interested in what I had to say. Many remarked I was the first marine biologist they'd met - complete with references to Seinfeld. We discussed fisheries, overharvested stocks, and sustainable choices in good company and they asked all sorts of questions. And would you know it.. seven others chose to decline the sea bass along with me. So I didn't incite a rebellion or change broad scale fishing practices that night, but a few more people will hopefully continue thinking about the broader impacts of their choices. They may consider this the next time they're out to a meal with family and even share what they've learned. Globally, it's easy to feel like the scale of these problems is too large to deal with, but by acting locally, we're able to pay attention to what we consume and where it comes from.

I'm also curious to learn from whether you think we're too far gone to act on an individual basis for the greater good? Are environmental solutions giving way to a diffusion of responsibility or am I correct that we have reason for hope?

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