Food vs Feed

The other day I was wandering from blog to blog and I stumbled onto an interesting concept: the idea of "food" versus "feed."

It was here, at an unusual blog that covers a range of topics, most of which have nothing to do with the content here at Casual Kitchen. But this blogger's idea of thinking of the food industry's processed, packaged and shelf-stabilized food products as "feed"... I mean, it's a just an excellent metaphor, a really useful lens to think about the kinds of food I want to avoid.

According to this blogger:

"Soda, chips, candy, cookies, crackers, cakes, pastries, frozen meals, microwavable fare and most fast food and chain restaurant gross national products all qualify as FEED...

Food is grown, raised, harvested and processed--and if not consumed while fresh--preserved in as natural and organic a state as possible to keep most of its nutritious and nourishing qualities intact.

Feed is mass produced by a few large multinational corporations using bio-technological innovations to quickly and efficiently manufacture product units ready for global distribution and a near infinite shelf life. Its primary traits are using genetically modified grain products to create a marketable product that is usually adulterated with preservatives and flavor enhancements designed in a laboratory to stimulate the taste buds to fool the human body into thinking it's something good for you."

Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, author of The End of Overeating, couldn't say it better.

Here at Casual Kitchen, we use the term second-order foods to describe packaged and processed foods-made-from-other-foods. But the word "feed," with its overtones of factory farming, of the literal fattening up of human beings... it's a far more interesting and rhetorically powerful word. And using this word, thinking about food in this way, it helps put extra power and agency back into consumers' hands. After all, we're not barnyard animals. Who wants to eat feed?

Finally, one more quote relevant our many discussions about branding here at Casual Kitchen:

But above all, the primary difference between Food and Feed can be discerned by this: most real food requires little (if any) corporate mass media marketing campaigns to sell product and expand market shares and waistlines alike.

In other words, branding and advertising is a key cue to distinguish food from feed. It's not always the case, but in general, if a food needs to be advertised and marketed to you, you don't want to eat it.

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