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Posts Tagged ‘Food Ethics’

Man thinking about a tangerine

As consumers, we all are philosophers whether we know it or not. We practice philosophy at the grocery store, the restaurant, when we prepare meals, when we eat, and when we dispose of unused food. We practice food ethics. Our decisions, actions, and judgements about food are guided by a set of values, and are made for the perceived common good for ourselves, often our families, and perhaps the larger community and society. The set of food values that we prioritize in our decision making differs from person to person, stage of life, culture, and situation. Food values and their definitions include:

Healthfulness– Healthy foods are nutrient dense and minimally processed (low in fat, sodium, added sugar, and high in fiber).

Safety– Preparation minimizes cross contamination, foods have been cooked to proper temperature, foods are stored properly, food packages are not spoiled or damaged.

Quality– Foods are fresh, visually appealing, and/ or tasteful.

Food Waste Avoidance– Foods should not rot, expire, or become inedible. Food should be consumed only by humans. Foods not eaten can be composted and used to produce more food.

Low Cost– Foods are inexpensive per unit (ounce, calorie, etc).

Convenience– Foods are easy to prepare. Foods are easy to store, or have a long shelf life. Minimal time and effort is needed to acquire food.

Social and Cultural Acceptability– Foods are preferred by a cultural group. Foods are acceptable according to religious beliefs. Foods are accessed appropriately according to cultural or social standards and without stigma. Foods can easily be stored, prepared, and consumed using available resources and knowledge.

Localness– Foods that stimulate the local economy via local production and retail. Foods that stimulate social connections between producers and consumers.

Environmental Sustainability- Food is produced, acquired, and consumed in ways that preserve environmental value for future generations. Limits water pollution and soil degradation. Preserves fossil fuels and fresh water. Reduces greenhouse gas emission.

Workers Rights– Food is produced by workers who receive fair compensation, have legal rights, and opportunities for education and advancement. Farms and factories are safe and clean.

Animal Welfare– Meat production avoids cruelty at animal housing, transport, and slaughter.

Food For Thought…What are your top five values when making decisions about food? Have they changed over the course of your life? Perhaps there is a value that you hadn’t thought much about, and would like to do some more research on. Have you ever noticed that your values conflict with those of others in your family or community?

Conversations Starters…Looking for something to talk about at the dinner table? Pass out this list and ask your family members what their top 5 food values are. You might find that youth have a completely different set of values than you have. Older generations also might have different values as well. After listening to everyone’s top values, lead off your questions by asking “what, how, why” and withhold judgement. By listening and learning about their values, you can learn about the experiences and attitudes of different generations. These conversations might also change your values when it comes to food.

Author: Dan Remley, PhD, MSPH Associate Professor, Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County

Sources:

Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. Core Ethical Commitments. Accessed on 5/11/2021 at Core Ethical Commitments – Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics (jhu.edu)

Streiffer, R., Piso, Z., Sweeney, G., Remley, D., & Forcone, T. (2007). An Expanded Understanding of the Ethical Importance of Civic Engagement in Food Sourcing Decisions at the Institutional Level. Internal Medicine22(7), 1018-23.

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