Delicious Living Blog

How our words can change the world

With our new Watchword series, you'll learn meaningful definitions of words and phrases that are integral to a healthy food system and combating climate change.

This month, you’ll notice something new on Delicious Living's back page and on our website: We’re calling it Watchword, and it features piece of word-focused artwork provided by the creative people at The Lexicon of Sustainability. This month starts with, appropriately, the word Sustainability. (Even if you don't read any further, do not miss the "What is Sustainability?" video; it's awesome!)

Why are we devoting time and space to this new element? Because the longer I walk in the natural-living world, the more I witness how the conversation about sustainable health—for people and planet—gets bogged down (or, worse, co-opted) through lack of a shared vocabulary. Well-meaning activists spout jargon that everyday people (myself included) puzzle to decipher, while profiteers benefit from confusion-fed loopholes. What do “pasture-raised” or “food security” really mean? How is “fair trade” different than “ direct trade”? How does one even pronounce the word “terroir”?

So when The Lexicon of Sustainability reps contacted us, I was thrilled. The Lexicon project highlights food-justice champions and beautifully illuminates—through photography, writing, video, and a new book—words and phrases that are integral to a healthy food system.

As stated on the LOS website: "The Lexicon of Sustainability is based on a simple premise: People will live more sustainably if they understand the most basic terms and principles that will define the next economy."

“We saw a need to really explain sustainability through the most basic, solution-oriented principles so that people could understand, in a simple, human way, these sometimes very complex ideas,” says Lexicon cofounder Laura Howard-Gayeton. “The idea is really to keep ownership of the language with the people and not with corporations.”

During the next 12 months, Delicious Living's back page will highlight one word or phrase from Lexicon’s collection; better yet, each week we'll explore a new word on our website at deliciousliving.com/watchword. If you have the print version, I encourage you to tear it out and tape it to your fridge or office door; then go to deliciousliving.com/watchword to spread the word(s) by sharing the images on Facebook or Pinterest, and to explore the other action steps and ideas on the topic (including recipes!). This conversation is just starting to get good.

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