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Words “Make” Friends and Foes

The agricultural implications of food and fashion. Using words to find your way to what matters to you.

Updated 12/2020

Went clothes shopping with a BFF the other day (this was written pre-pandemic).  We’re both fabric fans and love natural fibers most, plus blends that wrinkle less for travel. I don’t like what I call the stinky fabrics – you know, the ones that absorb smells. Ick.

Fabrics and food actually have something in common (besides potential smelliness): agriculture. Surprised? Don’t be, as agriculture is the source of our food, fiber, and fuel. Kind of cool, isn’t it? So…if you love the planet, don’t just think of food. Think of fashion, too. Look at the tag before considering the shirt or whatever you are buying. Get ready to figure out what you are reading, because fashion words are getting about as interesting as food words are. Here are a few examples of this about both food and fashion:

Hot smoothies. Also known as (aka) soup.

Vegan butter, aka margarine.

Vegan leather. Pleather. Non-leather material, aka fabric.

balanced eating plant based
Three of the five food groups are “plant based”. Most people just think of the fruits and veggies, but hello, grains! We know you are “plants” too.

Plant based, aka eat balanced meals with all the food groups.

In this same spirit of discovery, consider “standards of identity” – the official description of food so we get a consistent item. That sounds nice, right? Right.  Most of us have not visited the FDA website to read the back story on this. For your convenience, I cut and pasted this section to give you a taste (see what I did there) of what I am talking about:

“…For example, all regulations under section 401 contemplate that the food and all articles used as components or ingredients thereof shall not be poisonous or deleterious and shall be clean, sound, and fit for food. A provision in such regulations for the use of coloring or flavoring does not authorize such use under circumstances or in a manner whereby damage or inferiority is concealed or whereby the food is made to appear better or of greater value than it is.

(d) Safe and suitable means that the ingredient:

(1) Performs an appropriate function in the food in which it is used.

(2) Is used at a level no higher than necessary to achieve its intended purpose in that food.”…

From: FDA Code of Federal Regulations Title 21

Don’t forget that farmers grow and raise everything they do to offer us the diverse choice we have in foods and fibers to choose what we like.

Words can be fun. They can also evoke lots of reactions.  Use your words wisely.

By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.

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