Language as Lever: Can the Lexicon of Local Make a Global Impact?


  • Stacy Miller Independent writer, research advisor, and program consultant



Language, Local Food, Multimedia, Sustainability, Vocabulary


First paragraphs:

"Lacking any intrinsic value, words are only valuable in an instrumental way. Thus, the value of words resides in their ability to accomplish something."

—Michael Suarez, The Book: A Global History

Infused with the ambitious energy of spring, I eagerly volunteered to review Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America by Douglas Gayeton. By June, I felt a bit like Alice, plunged into a multi-media wormhole wonderland. The book is only one fruiting body of The Lexicon of Sustainability Project, founded in 2009 by Douglas and his wife, Laura Howard-Gayeton. The website says the project "educates, engages, and inspires people to pay closer attention to how they eat, what they buy, and where their responsibility begins for creating a healthier, safer food system in America" ("'Local': The Book," n.d., para. 4). You have likely encountered Gayeton's information artworks, seen one of 24 beautifully bite-sized short films as part of PBS's Know Your Food film series, or perhaps checked out the website, If you haven't, you will. In fact, go ahead. I'll wait.

Unique artistry aside, Local is a different kind of book, which is obvious from its first page. Here, the author implores the reader to give it away. He knows that his work does not belong on your shelf, or even on posters at a sustainable agriculture conference. The book belongs on your socialite Aunt Helen's coffee table, the information artworks plastered on the wall of a public library or a restaurant bathroom stall, and the videos played in high school homeroom. In short, if you are reading this book review, you are more than likely not its target audience...


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Author Biography

Stacy Miller, Independent writer, research advisor, and program consultant

Stacy Miller is an independent writer, research advisor, and program consultant who helps organizations evaluate and improve food system diversity, transparency, and integrity. As the former executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition and researcher into local food issues, Stacy has coauthored several reports, including Real Food, Real Choice: Connecting SNAP Recipients with Farmers Markets (2010). Her current projects involve identifying metrics and practical data collec­tion methodologies for farmers market evaluation and local food system integrity. Stacy has a master’s in agricultural and environmental education from West Virginia University. She can be emailed at, found on Twitter @goodphyte, or in her “biodiverse” garden in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is home to a startling variety of weeds and rodents with sophisticated vegetarian palates.
Cover of Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America



How to Cite

Miller, S. (2014). Language as Lever: Can the Lexicon of Local Make a Global Impact?. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 4(4), 207–212.