You Watch Your Phraseology!

I read this post on NPR’s site the other day about a new documentary produced by Chef Tom Colicchio, A Place at the Table.

Now, I haven’t seen the movie yet. It’s just out in theatres and OnDemand. But it has to do with the 50 million Americans that are food insecure, meaning they do not know where their next meal is coming from. Of those 50 million Americans, 17 million are children. That’s a tragedy.

Here ends the serious portion of this post.

The REAL tragedy here is the phraseology “food insecure” and it’s flip side, “food secure.”

It hits my ear wrong, y’all.

Now, It’s not a new phrase. It’s been around since at least 1996, according to the World Health Organization website.

I hear food insecure and conjure up the image of a Stepford wife going “I don’t know, Jameson, do you think I should serve this gem lettuce with these English peas?” Or, “is it going to be offensive to serve a Malbec with halibut? This dinner HAS to be a success.”

It makes something really important sound really trivial to me.

The flip side, food secure, makes more sense to me. But only if you know the context. “I am secure because I know where my next meal will come from.” I still struggle with it, though. In an age where food so often is genetically modified, couldn’t “food security” be referring to food that is safe and unmodified, hence, secure? Without the context, isn’t the phrase meaningless?

I conducted EXTENSIVE research amongst my friends and family to see if people were aware of the phrase. (Ok, I talked to 4 friends and 1 family: my dad.) None of them were, but my dad was able to intuit the meaning because he is a wizard.

Here’s the thing. If nobody has heard of it (and I grant you, this was a very small group), what’s the point of the phrase? Why not just say “underfed” or “improperly nourished”? Those are saying the same things using real words. You know, real words that already have meaning. Wouldn’t that have more impact vs. an unknown phrase that is falling on deaf ears? 

I know that’s not the actual, real point. The point is to bring awareness to a real issue. An issue that, per the movie’s website, could be solved. Which would solve a real tragedy vs. a fake semantical one.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled frivolity.

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