Bako Sweet Produce: California GrownRainier: Wholesome to the core®

Part 1: Clever vs. Wise: A Fresh Produce Microscope on Product and Productivity

Once again, the beginning of a new year has afforded me some time to stop and pause a bit. I find this exercise to be a great way to think about this past year in review, putting into perspective what I’ve accomplished, what has worked well, and what needs improvement as we move ahead. Of course, it’s always easier to see things with the 20/20 vision hindsight brings, but it is absolutely a great way to grow by understanding what prompts the choices and actions we take. I firmly believe looking for clues in the rearview mirror positively affects one’s path going forward.

Recently, I was hiking and listening to a podcast when a statement struck me as important and completely applicable to our little produce world. The quote was, “As people, we are very clever, but not very wise.” Walk with me as I share a little of what I have learned.

By definition, “Wisdom is the combination of experience, knowledge, and careful judgment.” If you've got it, you're “wise.”

Clever, on the other hand, made some sense and was interesting when I looked it up on vocabulary.com: “Clever may seem like a compliment, but this adjective boasts a rather broad range of meanings—from ‘intelligent’ and ‘imaginative’ to ‘calculating’ or ‘contrived.’” Clever still means “agile” or “adroit,” but it currently refers primarily to mental skill rather than physical. Such as a “clever scheme” or a “clever device.”

For example, using Cliff Notes in a pinch is a great way to be able to converse about a subject, but isn’t there real wisdom in reading the entire material for the test? It’s low-hanging fruit, but using robo calling as another example, one can see that the industry has devised clever uses of technology to interrupt our lives; but where is the wisdom in trying to shove something down a listener’s ear in 30 seconds?

By definition, “Wisdom is the combination of experience, knowledge, and careful judgment.” If you've got it, you're “wise.”

Where does produce fit into this discussion? I propose that some changes in the produce industry “cleverly” fit this discussion if we think about it. Are the changes we see clever solutions vetted by wise review, or just the most expeditious clever we can muster without a thought to their consequences? Under the guise of efficiency, expediency, and economy, we are often forced to be clever without being able to apply wisdom to the equation. There are two areas I will touch on using my thoughts on clever and wise—product and productivity.

In part 1 of this series, let us first look at product. Food is a drug and what we choose to eat and in what format determines many of those independently occurring, non-hereditary risk factors in our lives. As individuals, we are responsible for what we consume and wisdom says that food consumed in a responsible manner can help us achieve and maintain our health and wellbeing. We rely on our food suppliers to apply wisdom to the practices they employ to grow our food and bring it to market. But producers are increasingly being pressured to show their bottom lines and be willing to adjust their pricing accordingly. The pressure to compete creates an environment that has more gray than black and white, and corners are being cut. Retailers are facing a new horizon with behemoths ruling the field, determining how we are going to shop and with whom in the future.

While it may be clever to use price as a defining tool that assures market share, it isn’t a long-term viable solution to support consumer safety and product vitality. Wisdom says that farming in a responsible manner makes a difference to the planet. Wisdom dictates that supporting the economic health of the grower and the retailer is a smart choice. Clever writes and says inflammatory things. Clever adds ingredients to our food that are too hard to pronounce and don’t add benefit to the consumer. Clever forces companies to walk away from the hard work necessary to bring quality food to the marketplace and ruins others not willing to rely on demonstrating the value of their food in real dollars.

We need to be applying foundational principles to the way we conduct business. It is incumbent on the influencers in the industry to develop clever applications that demonstrate the wisdom in their choices.

We need to be applying foundational principles to the way we conduct business. It is incumbent on the influencers in the industry to develop clever applications that demonstrate the wisdom in their choices. Being cheap is an easy go-to but it is like the fight between the anaconda and the alligator—there are only losers. By choosing cheap we have started to degrade the positive power of food and we have given the consumer no reason to show trust or loyalty. Wisdom tells me we need to accept the real cost of food because safety, flavor, and quality come at a cost. And we pay that price either initially at the POS or in the end with our health and the health of our planet.

So, how does productivity fit into the picture? Let’s take a quick breather, and we will jump back into the conversation in part two...


Todd Linsky, Founder, TLCTodd Linsky has spent the last thirty years immersing himself in the organic industry at every level. Todd’s experiences range from working as a produce manager for a small nature foods company and working nights on the Los Angeles Produce Market, to time spent in Moss Landing working for the first organic grower/shipper operation, and a rise to a vice presidency at one of the largest organic grower/shipper operations in the country. On his road to success, Todd has grown a sales company from hundreds of acres up to tens of thousands of acres; built over the years with countless handshakes.

In 2015, Todd formed Todd Linsky Consulting, known as TLC (www.tlc.organic). With the founding of TLC, he then launched Produce Therapy® a dynamic tool that helps companies discover what has a significant impact on their company culture and directs the mood of their business. TLC’s proprietary methods and guidance, challenges the status quo and works to make each day extraordinary.