The kind of needs we are talking about are not what we normally think of as needs being big wants, like “I need an apple pie right now!” That is a want. The need in this case is for nourishment or for enjoyable taste. These are needs.  And what makes them “needs” is that they are virtually universal. Everybody needs food, everybody needs air, everybody needs community and care and joy.

One of the other things that characterizes an authentic need is that it can be satisfied in many different ways. If I need food, there hundreds of different kinds of food. So a deep need is not only universal, it can be satisfied in many different ways.

There are many different approaches to needs. Among the most useful are lists and analysis provided by Nonviolent Communication and Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef.