Food OR Nutrition?

Date posted: Sunday 10 April 2022

"Food" or "nutrition"? You might wonder about the difference, but there certainly is one. We speak about people being hungry as we might feel when we’ve gone past a normal mealtime or skipped a lunch. But we speak of children being malnourished when they fail to gain weight as expected, fail to thrive, or when they suffer from diseases such as beriberi, pellegra, kwashiorkor and others. Children such as these may be the ones who are listed in the “stunted” category in many health reports.


But what about us? We who live in abundance that many in the world can only imagine? Do we pay attention to the difference for ourselves between food and nutrition? Or do we even know about some of those differences?


The Hunger Awareness and Advocacy group in my congregation has been reading together a book with the curious title, Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal by Mark Bittmann. We have learned much of the history of foodstuffs, especially here in our United States. We are finding discomforting realities about food growers, processors, manufacturers and distributors to say nothing of food advertising. We are paying better attention to our own eating as well as to the kinds of food items we consider as donations to local food shelves and feeding programs.


Here are some of the things we discovered/discussed just about grain:

  • grains are actually a subset of fruits
  • the bran, germ and endosperm make up the grain; each is very different
  • the bran and germ contain oil, which can go rancid with time; storage is an important factor
  • milled grain, not simply ground, produces white flour
  • mass produced and wrapped white bread drove out small bakeries
  • WWII found many soldiers suffering from vitamin deficiencies and by 1942, the U.S. military would only buy “enriched flour”
  • Wonder Bread, introduced in 1929, “built strong bodies 12 ways” — all with synthetic nutrients

Is it any wonder when we advocate for programs to end hunger both domestically and internationally we speak of "nutrition" and not simply “food”? Another reason perhaps to check your own shopping list or cupboard?


-Vernita Kennen

Incarnation, Shoreview