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Ali Berlow, left (AB) is a founding editor and publisher of this magazine, a food activist and host of Cook’s Notebook on WCAI. Ruth Faden (RF) is the founder of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Ethics and an expert on the ethics of food. She lives seasonally in Chilmark.
AB: What is a food ethicist?

RF: People who work on the ethics of food are studying the rights, duties, and  harms associated with the ways in which we produce, process, and consume our food. We’re asking: Who gets harmed? Who benefits? Are there anybody’s rights that are going to be infringed or violated by doing X or Y? Are people being harmed as a consequence? Is the environment being harmed? Are future environments being harmed? And, of course, there are questions of fairness — who wins and who loses, and in what relations of power do they stand with one and other. 

The American food system would be very poorly graded. It would not do well.

AB: Do you have a priority list of urgencies?

RF: Near the top of the list are concerns about the environment. To think about a sustainable food system — a food system that can meet the needs of the growing global population within the planetary boundary. The reason why we’re not doing well from an ethics point of view is that we’re desperately behind in terms of the changes we need to make in the ways we make, process, and distribute our food.

…continue reading ‘Conversation: Ruth Faden and Ali Berlow’

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