Maybe This Will Convince Them

Have you ever struggled over how to explain the difference between pasture-raised and cage-free eggs? How about sustainable and conventional agriculture? The world of real food is stuffed full of terms bent on describing how it is we’re moving beyond organic towards something far more intentional and wholesome — terms like aquaponics, food miles, and mobstocking.

Over the past few years, photographers Douglas and Laura Gayeton have been crisscrossing the country capturing images that convey the meaning of these emerging terms. Their project is called the Lexicon of Sustainability, and it’s probably one of the single most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my life.

They’re combining photography, videography, and old-fashioned artistic sense to create a photojournalistic dictionary of the vocabulary of sustainability. The Lexicon, as they call it, is now a collection of “information art” and short films that can be viewed in a traveling art show as well as online. Anyone — even you — can curate this show for your community.

Check out the spectacular quality of the videos they’ve commissioned so far. This is the story of an egg:

And this is the information art produced from that story:

(HINT: Click on the picture to see a larger version. What amazing detail!)

The idea is that words mean things. And when you or I use words like “food miles” in a conversation with someone who eats a standard American diet, we sound like an invader from outer space.

Perhaps The Lexicon can do what we can’t. It can let the images speak, let the images educate. In the same way that absolutely everyone who saw Food, Inc. now has the image of thousands of baby chicks hurried along giant conveyer belts to their doom emblazoned in their minds, perhaps these gripping images within The Lexicon can introduce others to the language of sustainability.

To check out more of their work, or to see about hosting a traveling art show near you, visit The Lexicon of Sustainability.

(all photos and videos by The Lexicon of Sustainability)


  1. says

    I was having a dinner last night with a Chef in training and some friends, the burgers were of course industrial frozen patties, but she did a very nice job with sauteing the peppers and onions.

    As we were eating I explained that caged eggs are yellow and rubbery, and country eggs “del campo” have orange yolks and “brighter” textures. In spanish. Always have to keep practicing if we’re going to change 100 million minds.

    • KristenM says

      Neat. It’s inspiring, isn’t it? I’m going to apply to host a “Pop Up Art Show” near me. I want to coordinate it with one of the local restaurants that’s into pasture-raised, local, organic food.

  2. TJC says

    i wish the graphic designer would have avoided the “white faint script over straw” issue. My eyes cant read that chicken-scratch! (pun intended?)

  3. says

    From what I could read I liked it. I agree with TJC. The script was illegible to me for the most part. Would someone post the words perhaps?

    • KristenM says

      Have you tried clicking on the image to make it larger?

      In real life, these are display-sized at around 30 inches wide, so legibility isn’t an issue.

  4. Sonii Nagel says

    I love seeing articles like this. I also raise free range chickens. One thing I would like to point out though is that people throw all these terms out like organic free range, pastured etc. but what kind of chicken food are they throwing to their birds. If you are giving them laying pelllets from the feed store it is full of GMO soy and corn. Even if you buy organic mix, it is mostly powdered and cracked grains where the nutrients have dissipated. I mix whole organic grains where the nutrients are still intact and let the birds digest it themselves in their croup that that good Lord gave them. I really think people need to start asking what are you feeding those Pastured or free ranges hens :) It really matters. I prefer no soy, even organic soy. There are plenty of grains, seeds, bugs and vegetation. They don’t need soy.

    • Jaytee says

      Nobody needs soy. Soy is not suitable for consumption… not by humans and not by animals.

      Is there even any animal that natually eats soy? I don’t think so.

    • says

      We mix our own organic, soy free chicken feed too and the next step I’d like to take is growing greens, etc for them and not have to buy anything!

  5. says

    Progress. We raise pastured pigs. The vast majority of their diet is pasture during the warm seasons and hay in the winter. Yes, pigs really do eat hay. Pasture is not all grass and even the grass is digestible. What goes in is grass, alfalfa, clover and other forages. What comes out does not look at all like grasses. They thrive so obviously they’re getting a lot of good nutrients from it. Just as importantly, the meat is superb. Since we pasture we don’t have to buy or feed commercial hog feeds or grain – and that saves a bundle when you’re talking 300 pigs.

    Same for our chickens. All through the warm seasons they eat pasture and insects. Come winter we feed them meat, pastured pork to be specific, left over from butchering. They thrive producing a bounty of eggs. Our real reason for raising the chickens is the natural organic pest control they provide. They make my life easier and healthier while also providing good food. Excess eggs go to our livestock dogs and weaner piglets.

    It’s a system and it works.


    Sugar Mountain Farm
    Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
    in the mountains of Vermont
    Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:

  6. David Opdahl says

    That video was an awesome educational piece, but now there does not seem to be any access to it. Any idea how I could get my hands on that? I checked the website for Lexicon of Sustainability, but could not find it there either. Thanks!

  7. Megan says

    Hi Kristen! I was wondering if you had any information on aquaponics? I searched your site, and found it mentioned here. I am part of a church that’s trying to assist families in setting up systems in their yards to provide more affordable food to families and the community. It sounds like a great idea, but I’m concerned about the whole set up, since I know that farmed fish aren’t healthy, so would the fertilizer that they produce be any good? Are the fish edible? I like the idea of sustainable food and saving money, but not if it’s going to cost us our health down the road. Thanks!

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