nip in the bud

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New Member
Lorrie Moore's "Two Boys" again.
"Such food could enter you old and sticking like a bad dream. When Two ate, he nipped nothing in the bud. It could cause you to grow weary and sad, coming in at the tail end of things like that".
I need help decipering the two phrases in bold. Thanks!
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    Senior Member
    American English
    The excerpt is here. Mary is seeing two boys: Number One and Number Two. She worries about the health of Number Two. The sentences before your quote above are:

    Number One always ate at restaurants where the food--the squid, the liver, the carrots--was all described as "young and tender," like a Tony Bennett song. But Number Two went to coffee shops and ate things that had nitrites and dark, lacy crusts around the edges.

    To nip something in the bud is generally to stop it when it's still young or new. In this case, it's Number One stopping the life of young, fresh (tender) food by picking it and eat it while it's still young, fresh and nutritious. Number Two eats unhealthy things -- processed food by the sound of it. Processing is the end of the production line for food -- the tail end of things. The food is picked, shipped, processed, packaged, shipped again, stored (perhaps well, perhaps not) and finally served. You're at the tail end of the line ... so you're not getting fresh, tender, healthy food.
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