I'm looking at describing the demand in vegetable food products in a project. Using the term "vegetable food products demand" seems a bit heavy. I wonder whether there's a better word or phrase for it.

For the more nit-picky among us, I would like to refer to Collins Concise English Dictionary:

vegetable /ˈvɛdʒtəbəl/ n

  1. any of various herbaceous plants having parts that are used as food, such as peas, beans, cabbage, potatoes, cauliflower, and onions
  2. (informal) a person who has lost control of his mental faculties, limbs, etc, as from an injury, mental disease, etc
  3. a dull inactive person
  4. (as modifier): a vegetable life
  5. (modifier) consisting of or made from edible vegetables: a vegetable diet
  6. (modifier) of, relating to, characteristic of, derived from, or consisting of plants or plant material: vegetable oils
  7. (rare) any member of the plant kingdom

Here I want to used the 7th meaning. (Interestingly, most other Indo-European languages I speak have two distinct words to distinguish 7 from 1.)

Any suggestions?

  • 2
    What’s a vegetable? Do tomatoes and mushrooms count? What about honey?
    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 17:00
  • Exactly. Here I'm talking about agricultural products. Honey is not excluded, although it wouldn't be the top of my list. Here I mean vegetable as opposed to mineral or animal. Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 17:31
  • 1
    No, what does vegetable mean? Suppose a carrot is a vegetable. It is a plant which is not a fruit. A banana is a plant which is a fruit; is it a vegetable? A tomato is also a plant which is a fruit; is it a vegetable? A mushroom is neither plant nor animal. Honey is not a plant, not an animal, and not a fungus. What does vegetable mean???
    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 17:50
  • 1
    @Benjamin The problem is those three categories leave out lots of things. Is Aspirin animal, vegetable or mineral? What about Ebola? Soda water? Coral reefs? Slime molds? Hydrochloric Acid? Citric Acid? The term vegetable is too broad. Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 18:36
  • 1
    "most other Indo-European languages I speak have two distinct words to distinguish 7 from 1" - what are those words? And do they only translate to a single one in English?
    – Mitch
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 14:34

3 Answers 3


Looking at where I'd expect to find "vegetable food products" in a grocery store, I'd likely go to the "produce" section and look for vegetables unless I specifically wanted them in the form of canned or preserved goods. So while it's not a single word term, perhaps "vegetable produce" would suffice?

  • I like this answer. I didn't know produce had a meaning specific to agriculture. Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 20:25
  • Yup! It's certainly not the primary meaning (it's #13 on the list at dictionary.com) but it does tie directly to agriculture, usually in the "fresh" sense in a marketplace. However, as Lynne says below, a "food product" could certainly mean something even only vaguely having to do with vegetables - so I think intent is key - whether or not you mean specifically fresh agriculture, or broadly any food that could vaguely have to do with vegetables.
    – Derezzed
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 21:07
  • I specifically mean fresh agriculture. Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 5:25

A "vegetable food product," in my mind, would mean a product that is made or derived from a vegetable or vegetables--not fresh produce. In fact, a "vegetable food product" could contain minimal vegetables, much as "cheese product" may contain little cheese. Food makers use these terms to create an association in the consumer's mind--a positive one, ideally, that drives sales. If you're talking about fresh vegetables, I'd say that. If you are talking about processed food products that contain or resemble vegetables, you could go with "vegetable products" (no need to say it's food, since that's a safe assumption).


A bit late, but maybe useful: How about "plant food products?" Three syllables shorter! "Vegetable oils" = oils from plant sources, but "vegetable food products" is ambiguous and tends to refer to vegetables (as opposed to fruit, etc.) rather than plants in general.

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