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Perspective: Douglas Gayeton on the Language of Food

By WorldLink Staff | October 22, 2012 | Leave a Comment

Becoming more food literate means learning a new language. Douglas Gayeton, co-founder of the Lexicon of Sustainability, explains how words can catalyze a food revolution.

Douglas is a filmmaker, photographer, and the author of “SLOW: Life in a Tuscan Town,” published by Welcome Books. The award-winning book features a preface by the founder of Slow Food, Carlo Petrini, and an introduction by Alice Waters.

What is the Lexicon of Sustainability project?

Douglas Gayeton: You can’t expect consumers to change their buying habits at the grocery store, or for farmers to suddenly grow their crops in a more responsible manner, if they aren’t aware of the most basic sustainable principles. In most cases it isn’t that people “need” to be educated. It’s that they “want” to be educated. They’re aware that their food system has become centralized, industrialized, and bureaucratized, and that it’s time for them to fix the system themselves.

They’re looking for information. For inspiration. And for a community of like-minded thinkers. This is how revolutions happen … but first, you need the words.

You’ve written that “words are the building blocks for new ideas.” Why is language so important in growing the food movement?

Douglas Gayeton: In communities across the USA, people are now talking about rebuilding their local food systems. The tools required for the job include words, because any social movement must first educate and enlighten before catalyzing change. We need these words to educate not only consumers, but food producers, too. Responsibly grown food is vital for our security and for our quality of life.

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