Merriam-Webster’s New Words Nod to Sustainability

It’s official: Pumpkin spice is right here to remain… nicely, in line with Merriam-Webster, that’s. In a current launch, the publishing firm shared that they added 370 new phrases and definitions to the dictionary in September 2022. Apart from “pumpkin spice,” three phrases that nod to environmental efforts within the meals business—”plant-based,” “oat milk,” and “greenwashing”—had been among the many few hundred different new phrases that made the lower.

In keeping with Merriam-Webster’s assertion, the dictionary works to chronicle how language grows and adjustments over time. “When many individuals use a phrase in the identical manner, over a protracted sufficient time frame, that phrase turns into eligible for inclusion,” it reads. Within the slang class, you’ll discover new phrases like “sus” and “yeet,” which appear to have solely risen in recognition solely in the previous few years. In the meantime, it’s placing to seek out decades-old phrases like oat milk, plant-based, and greenwashing simply now being given a proper definition.

First issues first: how had been the phrases outlined?

The brand new official definition for “oat milk” is fairly easy: A liquid made out of floor oats and water that’s often fortified (as with calcium and nutritional vitamins) and used as a milk substitute. Nonetheless, for the “plant-based” definition, Merriam-Webster opted for 2 alternate options. First: “Made or derived from vegetation.” Suppose plant-based burgers. And the second: “Consisting primarily or fully of meals (similar to greens, fruits, nuts, oils, and beans) derived from vegetation.” Suppose plant-based meals. In the meantime, “greenwash” was outlined as “to make (one thing, similar to a product, coverage, or apply) look like extra environmentally pleasant or much less environmentally damaging than it truly is.”

However these phrases *aren’t* precisely new, are they?

If we take a stroll down reminiscence lane, in an article revealed by The New York Instances, writer Ethan Varian writes that the time period “plant-based” was coined on the Nationwide Institutes of Well being in 1980 by Cornell College biochemist Thomas Colin Campbell, who used it to current his analysis on a non-animal-product weight loss program to skeptical colleagues. Nonetheless, the dictionary additionally signifies that the time period could have been used way back to the 60s. I’ll allow you to do the maths.

In the meantime, oat milk has been round since 1994, when it was created by Oatly’s Swedish founders, brothers Rickard and Bjorn Oeste, who had been researching an alternative choice to cow’s milk for folks with lactose intolerance. And at last, New York environmentalist Jay Westerveld coined the time period “greenwashing” in a 1986 essay during which he claimed the resort business falsely promoted the reuse of towels as a part of a broader environmental technique; when, actually, the act was designed as a cost-saving measure.

Are we selecting up on a pattern right here?

Why are these phrases lastly making their dictionary debut?

Virtually half a century later, these “inexperienced” phrases which are typically used to explain sustainability efforts are simply making their *official* debut. So why now? Maybe it has one thing to do with the booming plant-based F&B business. Bloomberg Intelligence analysts say that the plant-based meals market may make up practically eight p.c of the worldwide protein market by 2030, with a worth of over $162 billion, up from $29.4 billion in 2020.

Including these sustainability-adjacent phrases to the dictionary, nonetheless, additionally nods to an elevated curiosity in sustainability efforts and local weather change discount, in line with analysis by IBM Institute for Enterprise Worth (IBV). The survey of 16,000 international customers performed by the corporate discovered that greater than half (51 p.c) of respondents say environmental sustainability is extra necessary to them right now than it was 12 months in the past. It additionally confirmed that customers’ actions are beginning to match their intent.

How necessary is the language in relation to sustainability and plant-based diet?

As plant-based protein sources proceed to take a stable share of the market, meat-based purveyors are combating again. A severe level of rivalry amongst meat business foyer teams has been plant-based CPG labeling. These teams have labored endlessly to restrict the usage of phrases like “milk,” “meat,” and “burgers,” simply to call just a few, when describing or labeling plant-based merchandise.

Take, for instance, a invoice that was handed in 2018 in Missouri that prohibited corporations from “misrepresenting a product as meat that isn’t derived from harvested manufacturing livestock or poultry.” Or Louisiana, which set to impose (however was struck down by a federal choose) as much as a $500 advantageous per day for each advertising and marketing use of phrases similar to “burger” and “sausage” on plant-based meat merchandise, even with correct qualifiers similar to “vegan” or “meatless.”

So, ought to the official indoctrination of those new phrases into the dictionary be thought of a particular and validating win for sustainability efforts? We’d actually wish to suppose so, however a small a part of us can’t assist however suppose: Is lastly including these phrases to the dictionary good timing, or is it just too little too late?

A couple of sustainability tricks to eat for a more healthy planet:

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