01 April 2010

From the "Words Mean Things" File: Sustainable

Kids Prefer Cheese | Mungowitz | The EYM Lays Down Some Smack

A letter in the Deadly Tar Ball. The letter:

Though I’m thrilled to learn that our University is attempting to provide sustainable dining, Tuesday’s article, “Local Food, Big Business,” failed to explain what that actually means.

I’m inclined to think that “sustainable food” is food produced, transported, prepared and consumed without consuming finite natural resources or damaging the environment.

The article implies that subsumed under the term “sustainable” are the terms “local,” “organic,” “smaller farms,” “grass-fed beef” and “free-range eggs.”

The first two agree with my understanding of the term, but they get increasingly ridiculous.

Eggs produced by caged chickens are no more or less sustainable than free range eggs; they are more humane, but not more sustainable.

So by using the word “sustainable” to mean so many different things, the article robs itself of any actual weight or significance.

In my eyes, “sustainable” now means “any of a variety of liberal buzzwords designed and propagated to make people feel better about themselves.”

Kevin Munger
Oh, where, WHERE did I go wrong? Clearly, I failed as a father. A kid who doesn't realize that "sustainable" is something we worship.... well, I blame the LMM. She's a lawyer, and tends to think that words have meanings, rather than emotions.

I have previously mentioned the sophistry and illusion of "sustainable" when it comes to labeling wines.

[NB "EYM" is the "Elder Younger Munger," Mike Munger's blog cognomen (henceforth known as a "blognomen") for his older son.]

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