What should we eat? An ethical framework for well-grounded food choices


Being an ethically aware consumer today is difficult. Partly because there are so many aspects to take into account, and partly because it is difficult to find trustworthy and reliable information to base your food choices on. But that does not mean there is no point in thinking about what could constitute an ethical choice of food. Anna T. Höglund explores ethical food choices in a recent publication.

Anna T. Höglund, Associate Professor of Ethics

What affected parties can be identified in relation to production and consumption of food? And what ethical values could be at stake for them? These are questions that Anna T. Höglund, Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer at Uppsala University’s Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics answers in a paper that was recently published in Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. In the article, she discusses both the production and consumption of food. But also the value of including the meal as an important part of a food ethics analysis.

“Many ethical values are relevant with regards to food production and consumption. If you choose food based on only one of these, that could be ethically problematic. We need to expand our ability to see what different ethical values are at stake when we choose what to eat. And to find good reasons for why we choose one over the other”, Anna T. Höglund says.

Consequences and duties are often considered in discussions on food and ethics. But Anna T. Höglund also includes virtues and care in her analysis. This makes it clear that the meal in itself, and the fellowship it gives rise to , is an ethical value to consider. Although, with today’s trends towards more and more individual food choices, Anna T. Höglund says that this is a value that we risk losing. She writes that when we enjoy a meal together, we build relationships and develop virtues, such as solidarity, dialogue and respect.

“If we think through our food choices thoroughly and avoid waste when cooking, we can do a lot in order to reach well-grounded food choices. But we also need political decisions that reduce transport and emissions and support organic food productions”, Anna T. Höglund says.

Anna Holm

Höglund, Anna T. (2020) What shall we eat? An ethical framework for well-grounded food choices. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. DOI: 10.1007/s10806-020-09821-4

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Last modified: 2022-01-10