People Aren’t the Problem.
That’s a myth. And it’s startling just how much it’s holding us back.
The myth survives because we’ve created a world where making choices that violate our values is seductively easy.
When I flip the light switch on in the morning, the light is made possible by a coal-fired plant 21.5 miles from my fingertips. And I flip it morning after morning, not because I’m uncaring, but because it’s cheap and convenient. When my Dad walks the grocery aisles this Tuesday to buy mayo or chocolate-chip cookies, the inputs that make them possible often come from bizarrely unhealthy places. He fills his cart in this way, not because he doesn’t care, but because cheap and convenient will always fill his cart — no matter how many times Dr. Oz advises against it.
And when the leaders of the world’s largest retailers and manufacturers do things that are seemingly out of step with your values, it’s not because they don’t care, it’s because doing the right thing — for the planet and for our bodies — is often expensive, inconvenient, and let’s be honest, disgusting. To put it simply, you wouldn’t buy it anyway. So what do you expect?
Here’s the most important lesson I’ve learned: Give people an affordable and convenient path to do the right thing — and they will. Almost every single time. Make the path to do the right thing expensive and inconvenient — and they won’t. That lesson applies whether you’re a 64-year-old dad in Springfield, Missouri or the Vice President of Purchasing for the largest food manufacturer in the world. Our people are good. Our systems are not. And the essential goodness of people should inform how we build the future, especially in food.
We started JUST because we deeply believe in the goodness of people. We believe that eating well should be easy. We believe that the right thing, for our bodies and for the world, should be affordable. It should be more delicious. That’s our philosophy of change. In the last 6 months, 11 Fortune 500 food companies have signed agreements with us to provide better food to millions of people around the world. The thousands of human beings that make up these companies that pump out hundreds of millions of products and serve billions of meals to our children have names. They have families. They have goofy dogs and insane cats. They are you. And much like you, they are just trying to figure things out.
Two years ago when we started, I thought people were the problem. And I was wrong. It turns out that when you create a path that makes it easy (and even profitable) for good people to do good things — they will do it. And that’s how we change the world together.
What would the world look like if the choice that aligned with our values was easy? It’s a question worth asking. And maybe even worth building something for.