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The Humanist Quinoa Market Global Humanist Shoptalk

Sometimes the best way to move forward is to think about how we've responded to issues in the past. In this episode of Global Humanist Shoptalk, I reflect on the early-2000s trend cycle for quinoa as a super-food with key global-activist intersections. The aim isn't to criticize any of us for leaping onto a bandwagon, and then reckoning after the fact with the deeper complexities of any food economy issue. It's to think about how this sort of behaviour is in our nature, and how much trends like the quinoa craze illustrate our willingness to try to do better if the opportunity to do better is made commercially available. What could we do with that knowledge, to build better policy for other crises in the world?
  1. The Humanist Quinoa Market
  2. The Humanist Wellness Industry
  3. The Humanist Sidewalk
  4. The Humanist Pronunciation Guide
  5. The Humanist Hook

Launch day at last, Shoptalkers! Every other Friday, I’ll be posting episodes of Global Humanist Shoptalk, a podcast meant to offer an alternative to knee-jerk commentary about the world. Every episode, I invite you to share in exploring how an everyday item or seemingly straightforward topic can serve as an intricate site of worldly action.

(Or, you know, you can just use it as background noise for when you’re having trouble sleeping. I’ve been told that this is, at the very least, a rather soothing listen! If you’re having trouble conking out, I’ll be just as chuffed to know that the podcast helped to launch you into slumber).

This is meant to operate as a complement to my other articles here. Every Wednesday, for instance, my aim is to open up the Monday topic through a “Tooling Around” post that explores possible alternatives and workarounds to the issue of the week. There isn’t much action on that forum yet (or at least, there wasn’t this week), but don’t make me quote Field of Dreams at you. We labor and we lay in store for better days to come.

So what’s the shtick?

Topics this first season include the humble egg, carbon footprints, the punk aesthetic, statues, and astronomy. But for this opening episode, I have two aims. First, I explore why we need to practice thinking more expansively about the world without leaping to judgments about it. Second, I look at the relatively recent history of the narrative “hook” in media cultures.

The “hook” can be dangerous, at least when used in isolation. It’s not the only way we can cultivate interest in key topics! And yet, clickbait-y news cycles have normalized its presence as part of “good storytelling” to the point where it’s difficult to remember that it’s a choice at all.

But it is.

And that matters.

Because when we make this choice, when we choose to lean into the most immediately declarative and decisive views about a given subject, what are we doing to ourselves? Well, we’re training ourselves to value having immediate answers. To expect them. And we’re reducing our exposure to uncertainty, or to situations where multiple answers might all be valid.

Worse still, when we buy in too deeply to this rhetoric, we become far more susceptible to being swayed by people who offer decisive opinions on formal platforms. Are they always worthier experts? Or is their charisma leading us astray?

We need the “hook”, to some extent, but not in isolation. We also need to train ourselves to be more comfortable with dissent, and with raising up given topics not to rush to judgment about them. Just… to consider them. To recognize that there are often many facets to them.

And that’s what Global Humanist Shoptalk, the podcast edition, aims to do.

Quick caveat, and thanks

Is this launch a work in progress? Sure. Everything I do always is. I’m even still waiting for this first episode to hit a few different podcast distributor lists. (Regional issues, I suspect: posting to Apple and Google from Colombia quickly runs afoul of Western-financial account restrictions). But at the very least, I’m hoping for smoother sailing by the next upload.

There are fifteen episodes in my first season. They’ll be posting once every other Friday, while I take stock of where I want to go next with this venture. You can follow along on RSS.com or SoundCloud already. Once Google and Apple catch up, I’ll share their podcast links, too.

(Spotify, if it gets its act together in response to recent public outcry, will join that list in due course, as well. But it doesn’t seem wise to try to upload to them just yet).

If you choose to follow along, and to “like” and “subscribe” on other platforms, many thanks.

And even if this piece just helps launch you into a deeper sleep some nights? Hey! You’re welcome, and sweet dreams!

Happy listening, if you do! And may you always have outlets for “thinking slow”, even if you don’t.

GLOBAL HUMANIST SHOPTALK M L Clark is a Canadian writer by birth, now based in Medellín, Colombia, who publishes speculative fiction and humanist essays with a focus on imagining a more just world.