An Ethic of Food
Michael Pollan writes that the name for his book – The Omnivore’s Dilemma – comes from the difficult choices an organism faces when it can eat anything.
As Pollan explains:
Omnivores (like human beings … or rats or cockroaches) can nourish themselves with a variety of things. Unlike a cow, which is biologically programmed to eat grass, or a koala bear, which only eats eucalyptus leaves, we have options.
However, when you can eat almost anything … the choice of what to eat becomes more difficult.
For the other omnivores (the rats and cockroaches), the menu choices focus on finding food that provides sustenance, but that also isn’t harmful to them.
Human beings have to go one step further. We not only have to choose things that will nourish us rather than sicken us … we also have to choose food that will allow us to live inside the moral framework that we’ve chosen.
Moral framework? Perhaps you’re thinking that you don’t make your food choices based on any sort of moral framework. Well, let me take this opportunity to point out that you (more than likely) do not eat other humans. Why? Probably because something inside you tells you its just wrong.
That, my friend, is just the most obvious way that your moral framework affects your food choices. There are others.
Wednesday night (March 16 at 5:30pm) is the first night of the Food Ethics study at the congregation I serve. (Meal provided: come and join us!) We’ll begin this 6-week study by talking about what ethics means … and how it affects our food choices. We’ll even watch an excellent lecture given by Michael Pollan to some college students at an ethics conference at Princeton University.
It’s shaping up to be a great evening and I’m really looking forward to it.