New Wave Food Lexicon

Today, there is an increasing tendency to question what we eat, where it comes from and how it’s produced. Some consumers are prompted by the rise in obesity and diet-related health problems. Others are responding to food scares and a belief that an industrial production system that treats food as a commodity rather than a necessity is ultimately unsustainable. Across the globe, consumers are actively seeking ways to forge closer connections with their food sources and take more control over what they eat. The result has been a delightful food lexicon that represents the grassroots movement to create alternatives to the industrialized food chain.

Can we change the world overnight? Of course not. Can we improve our own small corner? You bet we can! Here are a few delightful additions to the modern lexicon. At the very least, they’ll spark a lively debate.

Food sovereignty – A policy framework advocated by a number of farmers, peasants, pastoralists, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, women, rural youth and environmental organizations. It claims the “right” of peoples to define their own food, agriculture, livestock and fisheries systems, in contrast to having food largely subject to international market forces.

Foodshed – A foodshed is everything between where a food is produced and where a food is consumed. It includes the land it grows on, the routes it travels, the markets it goes through, and the tables it ends up gracing. A local foodshed might be defined as a simple 100-mile radius.

Locavore – Someone who eats foods exclusively or primarily from their local or regional foodshed or from within a defined radius (often 100 miles). By eating locally, most locavores hope to create a greater connection between themselves and their food sources.

CSA – Community supported agriculture is a small farm model where consumers purchase a share of the harvest in the spring in exchange for weekly baskets of fresh produce. The model creates food communities, promotes sustainable agriculture and allows people to trace their food from field to fork.

Freegan – Freeganism is a boycott of the industrialized food production system. The word freegan is compounded from “free” and “vegan”. Vegans are people who avoid products from animal sources or products tested on animals in an effort to avoid harming animals. Freegans take this a step further, circumventing the economic system by practicing “urban foraging” or “dumpster diving” to recover edible or reusable waste. (Read more at or a thought-provoking documentary, Bin Appetit, at

Mindful eating – A meditative approach to eating that focuses awareness on the positive and nurturing aspects of food preparation and consumption. The mindful eater becomes attuned to the interconnection of earth, living beings, cultural practices and the impact of food choices on all of these systems. Many adopt mindful eating as part of a health and diet regime. (More at

Slow Food – An international movement founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986. Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem. It began as part of the broader Slow Movement, whose goals of sustainable foods and promotion of local small businesses are paralleled by a political agenda directed against globalization of agricultural products. (More at or at

Incredible edible communities – Cities, towns and villages that have dedicated public and private lands to grow food for the taking. Parks, schoolyards, medians, pathways are converted to garden plots and tended by members of the community for the benefit of all. The models vary from community to community, but the common themes are food accessibility and education, healthy eating and local produce. (Watch a brief video at

Of course, the language is constantly evolving and this list is far from comprehensive. Feel free to submit terms as you come across them 🙂


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