by Marion Nestle
Jul 3 2014

“Foodies” unite: happy 4th of July

Mark Bittman got my attention and cheers when he wrote about rethinking the word “foodie.”

I do wish there were a stronger, less demeaning-sounding word than “foodie” for someone who cares about good food, but as seems so often the case, there is not…shifting the implications of “foodie” means shifting our culture to one in which eaters — that’s everyone — realize that buying into the current food “system” means exploiting animals, people and the environment, and making ourselves sick. To change that, we have to change not only the way we behave as individuals but the way we behave as a society. It’s rewarding to find the best pork bun; it’s even more rewarding to fight for a good food system at the same time. That’s what we foodies do.

He also  got the attention of George Lakoff, the Berkeley linguist best known to me for his work on the importance of “framing” advocacy issues—describing them in ways that resonate emotionally.

Lakoff writes:

As a linguist, I know that the “-ie” suffix is a diminutive marker. It is added to children’s names, serves a trivializing function, and otherwise indicates nonserious pursuits (Barbie, Baggie, birdie, hoodie, selfie and so on). The word “foodie” has this element of English grammar built in and cannot be rescued as a term for a serious food advocate…Preparing, cooking and enjoying food connects us to all living things, to the wonders of life, and to the very serious responsibilities of a food advocate.

Let’s hear it for the “very serious responsibilities of a food advocate.”

Foodie that I am proud to be, I do indeed take these responsibilities seriously.

You too, I hope.

Enjoy the long, hot weekend, the fireworks, and the food, of course.


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  • Menshealth99

    I really hate the word “foodie” It is such a pretentious word to describe people who like to cook and eat good food.

  • Have connoisseur and gourmet gone by the wayside? Too French, perhaps, for American tastes?

    The idea of framing smacks of manipulating emotions to affect behavior. It’s like buying one of Bittman’s proverbial pork buns only to find it’s not really the best, it was only framed as such to get me to buy it.

    Advocates would do well to remember that their issues should first be logically sound before they resonate emotionally.

    Then they should be willing to submit their thoughts to the marketplace of ideas. Too often they turn to lawmakers to impose their pet causes on their fellow citizens, as if a few elites are able to decide what’s best for the many. While good-intentioned, these one-size-fits-all-type approaches usually aren’t the answer and tend to reduce personal liberty and the freedom of choice.

  • Ultimate BodyShop

    Creating new concepts like ‘foodies’ is just another label, used to reduce important and meaningful concept into wasteful jargon. It is a form of belittling what is truly important, and a form of hiding the real issues. Refusing to use these new “trendy” concepts that are void of meaning and history, we preserve the real issues… and speak about them openly without hiding behind ‘cutesy’ words. Let’s honour our words like we honour our food, and lets express the true flavour of what we are talking about.

  • No matter what the occasion, foodie gifts are sure to be gratefully received. There’s a humongous selection of beautifully presented gourmet treats for food lovers everywhere. From sweets perfect for the kiddies to sumptuous food hampers for grown-ups, you’ll find gift ideas to suit the food lover in your life so they can indulge in pure gluttony!

  • Monica

    Darya Pino Rose released her new book recently. It’s called “Foodist” and she describes herself (and prospective readers) as foodists much like someone would use the word “foodie”. I won’t give away too many details about what a Foodist is but she definitely advocates for a change in the way society eats.

  • Bally Chohan

    What’s in a name… long as everybody understand their responsibility. I think this is a great step forward. Somebody has to start from somewhere. If the word foodies is mixed with a healthy living, then this is such a wonderful concept. Let’s create a healthy world together.