Food and Foods. Toward a Definition

  • Andrea Borghini
  • Nicola Piras
Keywords: Metaphysics of Ordinary Objects, Semantics of Culinary Terms, Hunger, Food Ontology, Nature/Culture Divide


When I’m hungry, I try to seek some food, namely an object that is edible and that can feed me and preferably it has to be tasty. It seems a very easy task to find it for there is an alleged natural boundary between what counts as food and what does not. I can naturally pinpoint that boundary. Nevertheless, at a closer inspection, such boundary turns out to be suspicious: a roasted human being is both edible and nutritious, and someone may even find it tasty, and yet it can be hardly considered as food. Likewise, a rotten food item is neither edible, nor nutritious and however it can be sometimes considered as food, such as marcescent cheese. Our aim in this paper is to nail down the different conceptions which regulate our conception of what is a food and then come up with a proper definition. We set forth four different stances: a biological one, i.e., food is what holds certain natural properties, an individual one, i.e., food is what can be eaten by at least one person, an authority one, i.e., food is what is considered so by an authority, and a social one. i.e., food is what is institutionally recognized as food.


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How to Cite
Borghini, A. and Piras, N. (2020) “Food and Foods. Toward a Definition ”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio. doi: 10.4396/SFL2019ES06.
Emotions and meaning