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Food

Essay by   •  October 31, 2010  •  723 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,602 Views

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Summary of "The Ethics of Eating"

In the article, "The Ethics of Eating" which appeared in the May 24, 2002 edition of the National Catholic Reporter, opinion editor Rich Heffern tells the readers that the way we produce food not only affects the earth and the quality of what we eat, it also affects our souls. According to Rich Heffern, harmful farming methods such as the use of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs,) pesticides and more recently genetic modification have without a doubt been the cause of bland, nutritionless food. But consumers and producers may not realize how such methods have desensitized them to the spiritual aspects of the food they grow and eat. Heffern quotes Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California, recently named as the "mother of modern American cooking," saying that "If our food has lacked flavor, that may be because it was treated as dead even while it was being grown. And perhaps we have tolerated such food--and the way its production has affected our society and environment--because our senses, our hearts and our minds have been in some sense deadened, too"(517). According to the writer, the state of our food will improve only when we rediscover the reverence for life that we have lost.

Heffern believes that "food issues bring together the environmentalist, the farmer, the chef, the gourmet and the social worker -- all of us really, since we all eat (516). Concerns about the food system seem to cluster around six areas, the first being environmental effects. He states that waste from hog plants too often is not dealt with properly, with dire results for local wildlife, for the land and water. Heffern also shows increasing concern about the growing use of genetic engineering in agriculture and the products made from these techniques, the so-called "Frankenfoods" (516).

Food quality and taste is the second area of concern discussed by the author. He gives us an example of the tomato on the supermarket shelf as "tasting as bland and lifeless as cardboard" (517).

The third area is food safety. Heffern states that residues from chemical spraying used in raising vegetables and chemical additives involved in processing are serious concerns as cancers and other serious ailments have been linked to these contaminants. He also states that irradiation, a recent practice in food industry, "reduces the antioxidant vitamins in vegetables" (518).

Social justice which is the fourth area of concern, Heffern asserts that workers don't fare much better in the industrial meat model. In huge meat processing plants, workers are horribly mistreated. Child labor laws are broken as well. As Heffern says, "work in these processing plants has been called the most dangerous job in America" (518).

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