Successfully reported this slideshow.

Ethical Food and Ethicurean


Published on

Lecture Slides for NUS GE2221 Nature and Society module. It's boring coz i left out the photos :)

Published in: Education, Technology, Business
  • Be the first to comment

Ethical Food and Ethicurean

  1. 1. GE2221 Lecture 11 Society & Nature’s Produce: “ Ethical Food” & “Ethicurean” By November Tan 28 October 2008
  2. 2. Lecture Outline <ul><li>Food, Society and Environment </li></ul><ul><li>What is “Ethical Food” and “Ethicurean”? </li></ul><ul><li>Mass Production Dilemma </li></ul><ul><li>Certification, Legislation & Governance </li></ul><ul><li>How to be an ethical consumer? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Food for Thought <ul><li>Do you know where your food comes from? </li></ul><ul><li>Why is food important? </li></ul><ul><li>Is food natural? </li></ul><ul><li>Is agricultural land a part of nature? </li></ul><ul><li>Food is the perfect juncture between nature & society </li></ul>
  4. 4. Food and Environment <ul><li>Agricultural practices (fertilization, irrigation, and pesticides) pollute water, alter the nitrogen and fresh water cycles </li></ul><ul><li>Globalization of food production increase food miles and contribute carbon emission </li></ul><ul><li>Deforestation for agricultural land or cattle ranching results in erosion and biodiversity loss </li></ul><ul><li>Ecological “Foodprint&quot; </li></ul>
  5. 5. Global Water Footprint <ul><li>85% of the global water footprint is contributed by consumption of food and agricultural products (Chapagain, 2006) - 6390 billion cubic metres a year out of a total global water footprint of 7450 Gm 3 /yr. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Global Average Virtual Water Content of Selected Products, per unit of product (Source: Chapagain, 2006) <ul><li>1 tomato (70g) 13 litres </li></ul><ul><li>1 potato (100g) 25 litres </li></ul><ul><li>1 glass of beer (250ml) 75 litres </li></ul><ul><li>1 egg (40g) 135 litres </li></ul><ul><li>1 hamburger (150g) 2400 litres </li></ul>
  7. 7. Virtual Water Trade <ul><li>Virtual Water is defined as the volume of water required to produce a commodity or service (Allan, 1993; Hoeksra, 1998) and virtual water trade between nations can improve global water use efficiency but is also “ economically invisible and politically silent ”. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Food for Thought <ul><li>By importing 95% of food consumed in Singapore, we are also contributing to water stress in exporting countries. Are we shifting our environmental burdens to others? </li></ul>
  9. 9. Food and Society <ul><li>With industrialization and globalization, distance between consumer and producer is increased. </li></ul><ul><li>Encounters at local markets decreased and contacts are now made via supermarket and food processing industry </li></ul><ul><li>Consumer becomes increasingly ignorant and misinformed about food production and environment </li></ul>
  10. 10. Food and Social Justice <ul><li>After the Green Revolution (1940s~), global food production has risen 145% since the 1960s; in 2002, there is an extra 25% of food per person compared to 1961 </li></ul><ul><li>Yet there are still 800 million people hungry. </li></ul><ul><li>33 sub-Saharan countries have per capita intake of less than 2200 kcal per day </li></ul><ul><li>Even in USA (largest exporter and producer of food in the world), 11 million people are at risk of hunger. </li></ul>
  11. 11. What kind of social justice? <ul><li>1) “Social justice that emphasizes the social provision of quality food and nutrition to all people but also concerns issues of labour, education and oppressive social/cultural relations.” (Allen and Sachs, 1993; Shiva, 1999) </li></ul>
  12. 12. What kind of social justice? <ul><li>2) “Shortening supply chains to the advantage of producers …” (Pretty, 1995) “… while transforming the inequitable social, economic and environmental conditions produced by conventional agriculture…” (Allen, 1993) </li></ul><ul><li>Producers are so removed from consumers that they now have to go through multiple middlemen and edged out by large corporations. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Fair Trade <ul><li>“ Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices… Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers.” </li></ul><ul><li>Fair Trade Foundation </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  14. 14. So, what is ethical food? <ul><li>It is not one particular thing. It’s the ethics of food choices and having an ethical food system. </li></ul><ul><li>But ethics is value-laden! </li></ul>Organic Food Fair Trade Products Natural Farming Community Supported Agriculture Safe Food Sustainable Food Food Quality
  15. 15. Who is it for? Do you agree? Consumer-centered Producer-centered Ecocentric Anthropocentric Organic Food Fair Trade Products Natural Farming Community Supported Agriculture Safe Food Sustainable Food Vegetarianism Food Quality
  16. 16. Conventional vs. Organic <ul><li>CONVENTIONAL </li></ul><ul><li>Less nourishing (if grown in synthetically fertilized soil) </li></ul><ul><li>More vulnerable to diseases and pests </li></ul><ul><li>Usually monocultures </li></ul><ul><li>Potential for mass production higher </li></ul><ul><li>ORGANIC </li></ul><ul><li>More nourishing (if grown in composted soils) </li></ul><ul><li>Less vulnerable </li></ul><ul><li>Usually polyculture </li></ul><ul><li>Potential for mass production comparatively lower </li></ul>
  17. 17. What is Organic Farming? <ul><li>“ Acting on the ecological premise that everything’s connected to everything else, the early organic movement sought to establish not just an alternative mode of production (the chemical-free farms), but an alternative system of distribution (the anticapitalist food co-ops), and even an alternative mode of consumption (the “countercuisine”)” </li></ul>
  18. 18. Organic farming is against: <ul><li>Chemical fertilizer: against N-P-K (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) </li></ul><ul><li>NPK reliance suggests the mysteries of nature is solved. Fecundity of soil is solvable. Everything is possible . </li></ul><ul><li>Organic farming pulls us away from this mentality. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Food for Thought <ul><li>What’s missing in the organic definition? </li></ul><ul><li>How organic is organic? </li></ul><ul><li>Is animal waste organic? </li></ul><ul><li>If you clear 20 hectares of primary rainforest to create pristine “organic” environment, is it still ethical food? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Corporatizing “Ethical Food” <ul><li>Kraft, Dean Foods and even Walmart moving into organic business </li></ul><ul><li>Could corporatization of organics lead to increase imports? (10% of organic meat and fruits in USA are imported). For example organic soy milk brand, Silk, imports its organic beans from China and Brazil </li></ul>
  21. 21. Corporatizing “Ethical Food” <ul><li>In 2005, the Organic Trade Association, which represents corporations like Kraft, Dole, and Dean Foods, lobbied to modify USA's organic food standards by allowing certain synthetic food substances in the preparation, processing, and packaging of organic foods. Although it was met with protests from activists, the bill was passed into law in November. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Governing “ethical food” <ul><li>In order to ensure consumer safety and provision of sufficient information, different form of governance is adopted: </li></ul><ul><li>Legislation and Laws (command and control) </li></ul><ul><li>Certification (market-oriented measures) </li></ul>
  23. 23. Legislation and Laws <ul><li>Case study of Singapore </li></ul><ul><li>Due to food scares, health concerns and and high food dependency, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore has imposed strict safety standards, penalties, blacklisting, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Political pressure also result in exporting countries implementing stricter laws </li></ul>
  24. 24. Food for Thought <ul><li>Are there loopholes? Is it enough? </li></ul><ul><li>But, are these measures fair? </li></ul><ul><li>Who should bear the responsibility? </li></ul><ul><li>Did you know Singapore is an exporter of food? </li></ul>
  25. 25. Certification <ul><li>Let the market provide incentive for producers - It’s all about money… right? </li></ul><ul><li>Consumers are shifting towards new markets based around notions of “quality” , “nature”, “place” and “sustainability” </li></ul><ul><li>Certification would allow consumers to differentiate “ethical” producers from conventional ones. In turn, producers will be rewarded by the market </li></ul>
  26. 26. Criticism <ul><li>Information overload </li></ul><ul><li>Bias of accreditating bodies </li></ul><ul><li>Differing criteria and standards </li></ul><ul><li>Access to certification - cost and paperwork </li></ul><ul><li>Enforcement and monitoring </li></ul>
  27. 27. Nature’s Branding <ul><li>Certification is a form of branding and brand-building </li></ul><ul><li>However, established brands may not choose or need certification for marketing </li></ul><ul><li>Will certification really effectively incentivise the certification adopters? </li></ul><ul><li>What about publicity for the certification? </li></ul>
  28. 28. Who is an “ethicurean”? <ul><li>“ An ethicurean is a person who attempts to combine ethical food consumption with an interest in epicureanism, eating ethically without depriving oneself of taste. The approach takes into account the effect of one's food production and consumption on the environment , as well as the quality of life of animals involved in production of anything they consume. </li></ul><ul><li>An ethicurean also commits to minimizing the amount of waste produced, the recycling of waste and the mindful use of resources (energy, water etc).” </li></ul><ul><li>(Source: </li></ul>
  29. 29. Ethicurean’s Concerns Source: <ul><li>Ethical </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Animal Welfare </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fair Labour Practices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fair Trade </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Truth in Labeling </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Food Safety </li></ul><ul><li>Human and Animal Health Concerns </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Alternative farming methods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and the Industrial-Food complex </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Soil conservation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sustainability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Water resources </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Slow Food Movement <ul><li>“ Slow Food is good, clean and fair food . We believe that the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health ; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work. </li></ul><ul><li>We consider ourselves co-producers, not consumers , because by being informed about how our food is produced and actively supporting those who produce it, we become a part of and a partner in the production process.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Source: ) </li></ul>
  31. 31. Slow Food Mission <ul><li>Defend biodiversity in our food supply </li></ul><ul><li>Connect producers with co-producers through fairs and markets </li></ul><ul><li>Taste education </li></ul><ul><li>“ By reawakening and training their senses, Slow Food helps people rediscover the joys of eating and understand the importance of caring where their food comes from, who makes it and how it’s made.” </li></ul>
  32. 32. Food for Thought <ul><li>How much of ethicurean is about epicurean pleasures and how much is focused on the ethics? </li></ul><ul><li>How successful is “taste education” when activities are focused on feasting and less on didactic public outreach? </li></ul><ul><li>What about the other form of social justice of solving world hunger ? </li></ul>
  33. 33. What is the consumer’s role? <ul><li>Consumer sovereignty </li></ul><ul><li>Using our wealth and purchasing power to motivate producers as to what and how much they produce. </li></ul><ul><li>But it’s not a linear relationship. There are other factors that influences a farmer’s decision making </li></ul><ul><li>How can we become co-producers rather than consumers? </li></ul>
  34. 34. “Natural” Dilemma <ul><li>What qualities should “natural” food have? </li></ul><ul><li>Urban consumers eat with our eyes </li></ul><ul><li>Demand for quality contradicts with “natural” products. As a result, food is wasted. How? </li></ul><ul><li>Food quality and safety does not represent nutritional and ethical or environmental wellbeing. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Food for Thought <ul><li>Is it possible for urban consumers to reconnect with agrarian production? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we overcome the dilemma? </li></ul><ul><li>Why should consumers care? </li></ul>
  36. 36. Will vegetarianism save the world? <ul><li>Many believe that mass production of meat and factory-farming leads to massive environmental degradation, epidemics and unethical animal treatment. </li></ul><ul><li>Is vegetarianism the solution? </li></ul>
  37. 37. Will vegetarianism save the world? <ul><li>A Cornell University study (Peters, Wilkins & Fick, 2007) reported that 100% vegetarianism will require more land to provide the same amount of energy that humans require. </li></ul><ul><li>The best diet in terms of land use is a mixed diet of mostly vegetables with some meat. </li></ul><ul><li>Method of production is also needs to be considered. </li></ul>
  38. 38. Last Words <ul><li>Food is often taken for granted as consumers are now disconnected from rural nature and agrarian production. </li></ul><ul><li>With increasing human health and safety concerns, there is attempt to govern and reconnect. </li></ul><ul><li>However, ethical mass production appears to be an oxymoronic concept. Can this be balanced? </li></ul><ul><li>Why are certain societies more connected or concerned than others? </li></ul><ul><li>Is legislation or market-oriented incentives enough or do we need a social change? </li></ul>