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Lexicon of Sustainability

Watchword: Nutrition

Watchword: Nutrition
To draw attention to the best and brightest ideas in sustainability, the Lexicon of Sustainability's Food List project defines the words that are integral to a healthy, transparent, and accountable food system. Each week, we explore a new word through artwork, films, recipes, and written works. See all Food List words here. 

Nutrition: “Obesity is a symptom of poverty,” says Chef Tom Colicchio. “It’s not a lifestyle choice where people are just eating and not exercising. It’s because kids are getting sugar, fat, and empty calories, but no nutrition.”

As a board member of the non-profit Food Policy Action, Tom understands that being poor and having limited access to nutritious food often go hand-in-hand, a problem Delicious Living explores at length in its September feature: “How can healthy food become accessible to all?”

David Aylward, senior advisor of Global Health and Technology, summarizes the nutrition crisis this way: “[In the past] we asked the food industry to meet two standards: more and cheaper. They responded extremely well. They produced lots more food and costs went way down. The problem is that this food is not very good for us. It’s not nearly as nourishing as it used to be, so now we have widespread malnourishment and obesity."

Although we have successfully intervened in the marketplace to produce more food at lower costs, we have not encouraged full nourishment. The result? Millions of people aren't getting the nutrition they need from the food available to them. 

Title: SNAP
Location: Crescent City Farmer’s Market, New Orleans, Louisiana 

SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provides financial assistance to low or no-income individuals. The Crescent City Farmer’s Market in New Orleans (pictured above) accepts SNAP benefits to give low income shoppers access to locally-grown, raised, and produced foods, and puts more money into local food producers’ pockets. SNAP shoppers swipe their benefit card at the front, receiving wooden tokens which they spend on SNAP eligible products from farmers market vendors.

Accepting SNAP boosts the regional economy. It also helps the farmers market grow through diversifying its customer base by bringing in other sectors of the community and putting more money in local farmers’ pockets.

Short film: "Read Labels" by The Nourish Initiative

Food labels contain a lot of information, but they don’t tell the whole story. In this short film from The Nourish Initiative, Doctor Nadine Burke Harris provides some convenient shopping tips to help us read between the lines. 

Recipe of the Week: Harvest Hash

Hash browns made with potatoes alone don’t have much nutritional value, but that’s an easy problem to solve: add parsnips, butternut squash, rutabaga, onions, sage, and/or whatever veggies you have on-hand, and suddenly you have a dish that's both more nourishing and more flavorful. Win-win!

What steps have you taken to introduce better nutrition into your diet? Tell us in the comments below, and follow us on social media for more on nutrition throughout the week. 

For the past three years, the Lexicon of Sustainability has sought out the foremost practitioners of sustainability in food and farming to gain their insights and experiences on this important subject. What began as a photography project to spread their knowledge has grown to include short films, study guides, traveling shows, a book, and a website where people can add their own terms to this ever-evolving lexicon. See more at

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