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Odds are in your favor

First the bad news. . . .

Becoming a Major League Baseball player is difficult. Really, being a professional at anything requires more work than most assume. Did you know that 1 out of 100 minor league ball players ever makes it to The Show? In this year’s MLB Draft, approximately 1,200 guys were drafted (there are 30 teams and 40 rounds), and next year the same amount will have a chance to make a childhood dream come true. I played with and against hundreds of guys, and of them, many were cut after one or two seasons in the minors, and only a handful made it up to The Show, and even fewer played there for more than one month.

Blow on them before you roll 'em

Will you ever become a Major League Baseball player? The odds are no. In fact the odds are against all young athletes who dream of playing professional sports. But wearing the uniform and playing the game is the best. It really is. It’s what all the hard work and sacrifice is for. So, if your dream is to become a professional athlete, then remember this: When your at home sitting on the couch there is someone else out there who is training to be stronger, quicker, and better than you.

Now the good news. . . .

Whether or not sports are your thing, you can become a professional at something: You can become a professional customer. When I say customer, I’m talking about the kind that shops for agricultural products, such as food and fiber. For the rest of the story I’ll focus on food customers.

Professional customers go into food marketplaces and know exactly what to do, just like a batter knows when to bunt or when to swing away, or like a basketball player who knows when to foul or when to let the the opposing player drive to the hoop unchallenged. Thing is, unlike in sports, to achieve pro status in the food marketplace, it takes no special ability, no super strength.

So what does it take?

1) Professional customers read food labels. They know where their food comes from. They know what they’re eating and drinking. You can do this too. If you can’t pronounce a word then write it down and ask someone. That person might not know, so search for someone who does. If you don’t want to talk to someone, and you have a smart-phone, use it and look up the word on the Internet.

Your mind creates everything we know

But be careful of where your answer comes from. Information must be looked at with a critical eye. Your brain loves to feast on information, and only you control what goes in and out.

2) Professional customers, because they are certain of their abilities and sure of their true selves, respect all types of food. They understand people have choices, and they know that to say this person’s choice is “better” or “worse” than another’s . . . well, to them, it’s like telling a six-year-old that Santa doesn’t really exist, or like telling a Mormon that Moroni did not bury Gold Plates in the soil of Hill Cumorah. Like I said, information is useful, but watch out because it comes from everywhere. Sometimes you will read, hear, or watch something that may seem truthful or falsifiable, which makes seeking answers difficult. So keep one thing in mind: What is written or produced, whether on TV, in magazines, or on the Internet, was done so by someone with an agenda. No one is truly altruistic, and everyone needs money — thus, we all have agendas.

Just what that agenda is? I have my opinions, but really it’s for you to figure out. In identifying the agendas that affect our food system, you hone the skills needed to reach pro status. More, when you uncover the agendas you will realize that what you thought to be “proven” is really just a player in someone’s or something’s agenda.

3) Professional customers seek experts and, when they find them, have faith in them. These days the definition of an expert seems applied to anyone. Professional customers don’t let that discourage them, so you shouldn’t either. Agendas are all around us. Train hard. Be critical. Get quicker. Become a professional customer.

You’ve been training your whole life to become a pro, so I know you already have what it takes.

Adios Compadres,


Anthony Pannone is an agricultural leadership, education, and communications graduate student at Texas A&M University. When he shops it takes a while becaue he reads every word on every label on every food item he’s thinking of buying. Share your shopping story or another kind of story via anthony@ilovefarmers.org.

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One Comment

  1. Posted June 22, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Great post, I just recently had it with my weight and decided to start living healthier. The BIGGEST change I have made is what is in our fridge and pantry. Everything we have is something that needs to be cooked and usually has less than 5 ingredients. I wish this was something that had been taught to me growing up.. How to be a professional shopper for food that will be GOOD for my body.


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