'Feed' v 'Food'

My husband has just gone on an NG tube and we were horrified to read a brochure where the nutrition was referred to as 'feed', as if he were a chicken or a lawn. We can't see any reason the nutrition passed through the tube can't be called 'food'.

I contacted Nutricia, the supplier, and they said the words 'feed' and 'food' can be used interchangeably, which is patently not true. There is no verb 'to food'. They are not interchangeable as a noun either. You wouldn't say 'I went to Waitrose to buy feed for my husband's dinner'. It's been suggested by Josie it comes from giving a baby a bottle feed but even that is infantilising adult patients. And you wouldn't say 'baby feed' you say 'baby food'.

We're both journalists and we think words matter. Mike doesn't like his nutrition called 'feed' as if he was reduced to an animal or a baby just because he has cancer. We both think it would be much more sensitive and respectful to call it food. Just like everyone else consumes. What do other people reckon? 

  • Completely sympathise with your opinion Ruth but personally I had no problem with the "feed" moniker. For several months I had my nourishment delivered in boxes containing stuff that I hooked myself up to overnight; I certainly never called it food, because it wasn't to me. It was just the stuff that kept me alive.

    I still have real eating issues to this day, it's never a real pleasure, it's a chore.

    If someone cooks a nice meal for me my brain knows it's nice and I appreciate it so that gives me a certain amount of pleasure, but it's just not what it was. Left to my own devices I'd probably live on sandwiches.

  • Hi RuthieSun

    That's a very interesting question.  Personally I wouldn't think of it as food as I never thought about it that way during my treatment.  To me it was more like liquid nourishment.  I certainly agree though about the word feed.  Feed brings up images of animal feed, and I can definitely understand your feelings about that.  My Dietician always used to say nutrition shakes or nutritional supplements. 

    You're absolutely right that words matter. xx