When it comes to food and beverages, we have never had more options and choices than now. Deciding on what food, sake, wine or spirits to purchase has become a complex endeavor due to all of that diversity. Besides the myriad of selection choices we now face, other significant issues have arisen as well, from organic sake to seafood sustainability. Those issues make such matters even more complex and difficult to understand. The average consumer can easily be overwhelmed, though they would like to comprehend all of these matters. Those consumers who are more educated and knowledgeable in these issues still can have major difficulties. Even importers, distributors and retailers can be overwhelmed.
The key question for all of these parties is always: Who can you trust for accurate information?
That cannot be easily answered. In the end, it becomes an assessment based on various factors, including a source’s motivations, biases, knowledge base, experience, passion and much more. It is a crucial assessment if we want accurate data, if we want correct and honest information. If these matters are important to us, then it is clearly our duty to seek the truth, or at least as close as we can get to the truth.
For example, if you want accurate information about sustainable seafood, who do you trust? A fisherman, seafood purveyor, marketing company, professional writer, blogger, etc.? Some of those parties may have a financial motivation and that could taint their opinions. Others parties may possess their own biases which need to be taken into consideration. Sources will also possess different knowledge levels, from informed citizens to scientists. Personally, I have seen marketers claim that a certain seafood was sustainable though by examining other evidence, it appeared the marketers were not correct.
If you want information about a wine or sake, who do you trust? A distributor, a wine/sake store employee, a professional wine/sake critic, a wine/sake blogger, a friend? Distributors and wine/sake store staff have a financial motivation to sell wine, which could potentially bias their opinions. Other parties may have their own biases which could affect their opinions. As I mentioned wit sustainable seafood, all of these wine and sake sources will have different levels of knowledge. For example, at a wine and sake tasting I once attended, representatives from two different distributors gave me inaccurate information about the sakes they were selling. Yet many others at the tasting would never realize they were being provided erroneous information. The key to discerning an accurate source is to question everything. Question their motivations, their knowledge level, their biases. Do not accept anything at face value. It will take more time to do this but, in the end, you will receive better and more accurate answers. That questioning can also help you trust your source more. For example, the longer you deal with a wine/sake store, the better you will understand them and the better you can assess their biases, preferences, and knowledge level. That creates a stronger bond of trust.
Besides questioning everything, you should also consult other resources and not just a single one. The more references you consult, the better your chances of getting accurate information. You could ask a sake retailer about their products, but they might not receive complete and accurate information. By consulting additional references, you might learn matters your sake retailer failed to mention or which were erroneous.
With the information overload found online, please remember that not everything can be trusted. Question everything and seek as many different references as possible. Trust and accuracy comes with time and effort.