Synthesis Documents

The changing vocabulary of food purchasing, Sustainable Food Lab, 2008

    When university students or restaurant patrons ask for food that is "natural," "grass-fed," "local" or "fresh", the restaurant purchaser or university food service director needs to be able to respond with an understanding of the full range of meanings that those words carry.

    A number of major food companies have identified a common need for a guide to help buyers navigate the complex nature of more "sustainable food."

    A group of major food companies, NGO's and consultants, all active in the Food Lab, agreed to pool their expertise to create such a resource. Karen Karp and Shayna Cohen of Karp Resources, John Turenne of Sustainable Food Systems, with support from Susan Sweitzer on the Food Lab staff, have pulled together research on "The Changing Vocabulary of Food Purchasing." On their advisory and review team are Kim Brown of USFoodervice, Craig Watson of SYSCO, Jennifer Aspen of Unilever, Susan Lancaster of Radlo Foods, Kai Robertson of World Wildlife Fund-US and Tensie Whelan of Rainforest Alliance. Other Food Lab expertise was also consulted.

    The guide is geared to the U.S. audience and builds on similar resources already available in Europe.

    This guide provides real time, relevant information to be used by customers to further inform them of consumer trends, technology, and terminology commonly used in production, processing, distribution, preparation, service, and marketing of sustainable food products in the United States. The Guide provides an overview of approximately thirty big picture terms and concepts used in food purchasing and provides a platform for ongoing revisions as the subject.

    The Guide, while a project of the SFL and Business Coalition, does not represent the consensus view of all members.