“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I will throw the bad food away.

As a teenager in upstate New York, I got my first real job as a meat slicer in the deli department of a large grocery store. I spent much of my time memorizing the names of Italian cured meats and scooping potato salad for our customers. One of my first tasks was to browse through our prepared foods section to find expired products. I was instructed to peel the “sell-by” stickers off the products and replace them with fresh stickers so we didn’t have to throw away the food.

I blindly complied, like an unthinking automaton. I replaced stickers on as many expired products as I could find, from Asian boneless spare ribs to Italian meatballs, exposing customers to old and potentially dangerous foods.

I recently printed and framed a picture of Asian boneless spare ribs to remind myself of the dangers of automatic compliance. It’s not always obvious when we stray from the behaviors we know are right. I am responsible for my choices, and I have an obligation to align my capacity for independent thought with my moral compass.

I’m committed to actively monitoring my behavior so I’ll know when to take the spare ribs off the shelf.

— Anthony Terrizzi