Ethical Eating
Ethical Eating

...For the affluent, sitting down to a dinner derived from perhaps twenty-five different food sources is taken for granted...Filling the plate and eating and drinking to fullness is a social event, an opportunity to admire the art before you, to pay your respects by consuming it.

For those suffering from malnutrition, if they are lucky, powdered milk and a cup of cereal, provided by an international aid organization, may be all they can look forward to, meal after meal. And perhaps, clean water to drink with it. In the US, we waste 3,044 pounds of food per second. Per second! All the imperfect food that is culled from the fields and the food that is left in the fields after mechanical harvest, the blemished and bruised food that comes to the grocery store, the food that doesn’t get purchased and begins to decay on the shelves. The edible by-products of the production of foods are discarded. Food that is over produced and cannot be sold is discarded. The food on our plates that doesn’t get eaten that goes down the disposal or to the landfill.

If we believe that providing adequate food is a human rights issue, then we must understand the imbalances of food delivery, acquisition, and consumption and the damage that is done to all living things by the industrialized growing and transporting of food and the raising of farm animals in unnatural circumstances. …It may surprise you that it is estimated up to 37% of greenhouse gases are produced in the production of food…

If we believe that we live in the interconnected web, that life is of value, that our environment is worth saving, that the disappearance of species in record numbers is unacceptable, then we have choices to make. You hear a lot about driving less, turning the heat down, using less hot water and insulating your house. Did you know that by making choices about what you eat, you can change the course of the environmental and human degradation that we are now experiencing? I’ll make a few suggestions….

Buy organic and natural. I’ve heard folks claim that because organic products cost more, buying organic is unaffordable and elitist. I’ve read articles in which the writer claims that organic foods don’t taste any better than commercially grown food and you should save your money. I believe that, as people who care about the world outside of ourselves, when we look at the toll that commercially grown foods take on the environment and the health of the people who do the work in the fields, we can’t afford not to buy organic foods...

Eat less meat. If you are worried about getting enough protein in your diet, educate yourself about how to combine grains and legumes and dairy products to create complete proteins. Use meat as flavoring rather than as the main dish. Seek out meat that has been grass fed and finished and humanely raised…You could even go vegan if you learn to eat the proper foods needed for a balanced diet.

Become a food activist. Educate yourself about food production and distribution. Talk to your government representatives when farm bills and aid bills are being considered. Tell them to think democratically and environmentally when considering food subsidies and aid to foreign countries. ...Consider packaging when you have the choice to purchase food or drinks packed in plastic or not... Educate yourself by reading food labels, choose nutritious foods over over-processed, over-sweetened and over-salted foods. They are healthier for you and, from a public health standpoint, reduce the pressure on our health care system to treat illnesses that could be avoided by choosing wisely. …

Compost your food waste. Rotting food waste in landfills creates methane—a greenhouse gas 22 times more potent than carbon emissions…

Eating ethically and sustainably sends a message to food growers and producers. You vote with your bucks. Not too long ago, you couldn’t find organic or sustainably-raised animal foods in the marketplace. Now, [many supermarkets have] choices available….

This is an excerpt from a sermon delivered at Open Circle Unitarian Universalist, Boulder, CO

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