“Remember, your words can change the world”

I am a language geek. I love finding just the right word and understanding its meaning within the context of certain disciplines. I love that there are differences, that the same word in the same language can have different connotations in different contexts. I love the slippage that happens during translation. I love puns. But I don’t love it when words are abstract and meaning is applied vaguely, which is often the case in religion and marketing. I also hate crosswords.

A part of my larger food project has to do with dismantling some of the industry words, like “sustainability”, according to its index. How is the thing in question being assessed in order to qualify as “sustainable”, anyway? We’ve heard of “carbon footprint”, and then came concerns regarding the amount of water used. Then there is “compostable”, “recyclable”, “biodegradable” (not to be confused with compostable), “organic”, “fairtrade”, “eco”, “free run”, “free range”, “green”, etc.. These terms address the disperate parts of a whole, and how can we know when something is wholly sustainable when marketing the whole often based on fixating on its one redeeming part? Bamboo is my favourite example. Bamboo is rayon made with bamboo fibre. It is considered sustainable because bamboo grows rapidly and is therefore considered a sustainable crop. However, to make bamboo into a fibre suitable for spinning and weaving, it must be broken down by way of synthetic chemicals. Not sustainable in my books.

But while I chew on how to make a whole index system, here is the scoop on egg production and what the marketing terms really mean.