Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Food Vocabulary

Foodie Vocabulary
By: Hilla Abel, Co-Chair of Forest Hills Tuv Ha’Aretz in Queens, New York

At our first Tuv Ha’Aretz committee meeting of the year, one of our committee members introduced herself and explained why she wanted to be part of Tuv Ha’Aretz. “I was a locavore before locavores existed,” she said. Indeed, the concept of being a locavore—one who eats food grown locally—motivates and resonates with many of us who are part of the food movement.

Though it has been just a few years since Jessica Prentice coined the term in 2005, foodies and environmentalists alike have been quick to adopt it. I think the success of the term locavore can be attributed to its functionality. It has become a key word in our conversation about food and sustainable living. So, in the spirit of continuing and growing the conversation, I’d like to share this food vocabulary list with you:

cool food: A food that is produced with minimal greenhouse gas emissions. The coolest foods are organic, local, and whole foods. As CSA members, we are definitely on the right track!

food miles: The distance that the food travels from production to consumption. A commonly cited statistic is that food travels an average of 1500 miles from the farm to our plates. I recently learned that this statistic does not include imported foods or animal-based food transport, which must make the 1500 mile statistic a gross underestimation.

foodshed: An area which can, or is sufficient to, provide food for a given location. I like how the word foodshed is a natural analogy to a watershed. To me, the word foodshed creates a beautiful mental image of what local food communities can look like on a map.

foodprint: Our food system's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change. Foodprint is great word to describe food’s role in contributing to the carbon footprint. It is quickly becoming a buzz word here in New York, as the local food movement fights to pass the FoodprintNYC Resolution through the city council. The resolution calls to increase the availability of local, just, and sustainable food. A similar resolution is also working its way through the Chicago city council. (I encourage all New York City and Chicago Tuv Ha’Aretz members to get involved. A quick call to your councilmember would make a big difference. Visit

Whether it is for a chat around the dinner table, an impromptu debate at your Tuv Ha’Aretz distribution, or a phone call to your local councilmember, I hope you find these words useful in the ongoing conversation about the implications of our food choices.

--Hilla Abel

The vocabularly list is adapted from NYC Foodprint Resolution

Stay tuned for a list of “Jewish Food Vocabularly” next month!

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