woodenhand wrote: ↑
Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:13 am
Ignoring the distinction is therefore a hindrance to communication.
Not really. There is ambiguity in practically every sentence if you go looking for it. There was the famous 'time flies like an arrow' incident, where an experimental computer system came up with about a million possible interpretations (OK I'm exaggerating) for that sentence, most of which would not occur to human beings because we have a grasp of the context that the computer lacks.
I agree that your example with the 'crop' is about as ambiguous as it gets, because 'crop' designates a plant and a foodstuff. If you substituted the word 'plant' it would be entirely clear that the crops were being considered qua plants and not qua foodstuffs, although I think it is clear enough as it is. In any case, I think we can avoid ambiguity without using 'healthful' and redefining 'healthy' (which is in the online Oxford dictionary as meaning 'indicating or promoting good health' - you'd have to do away with that meaning in order for your system to work).
It's also worth bearing in mind that the health of the broccoli or the crops is part of what makes them good for us, so in those examples it's a bit of a false distinction - more a question of emphasis perhaps. Tobacco might be a more difficult case. I might need a bit more context to interpret 'with the new soil additive we can produce healthy tobacco'. Still, in real life I would have the context, and anyway the ambiguity is due as much to the sentence construction as to the fact that we don't know whether the writer avoids using 'healthy' when it means 'indicating or promoting good health'.
OK that's quite intensive work avoidance...