Eating and Ethics

In the “New York Times” this morning, I read:

“In a Starving World, Is Eating Well Unethical,

A meditation on the true cost of dining when nearly one-third of the planet lacks regular access to food.”

The New York Times Style Magazine, March 18, 2022, by Ligaya Mishan

If you are not a subscriber, you can use this gift link to read the entire article, see the photos and peruse the comments.

It’s a fascinating read, and the comments are equally illuminating. Please take the time to read both, especially if you like food, art and eating.

The lead photo for the essay is a prime steak wrapped in gold-leaf. One like it was served to a Vietnamese official at a high-end restaurant in London.

In the comments, you can find comments about virtual signaling, overpopulation, costs of food production, resources, hunger, etc.

You’ll also find this comment from me:

Just drop the “well” and we still have a dilemma. Is eating … unethical? Questions like these aren’t even good for mental masturbation because there’s no satisfying ending. Maybe we shouldn’t apply ethics to eating, or to much of anything at all because as Matthew wrote in the comments, “Pretty much doing anything now is unethical from the standpoint of inequity and impacts.” Maybe we should go off ethics altogether. Meditation, however, might be beneficial!

I do appreciate this essay and the comments, though. My spouse and I work really hard to grow and prepare most of our own, exceptional food. It never occurred to me that I could buy a $2 sheet of gold foil, wrap a grilled rabbit leg in it, and sell it at such a markup!

4 thoughts on “Eating and Ethics”

  1. I think the last paragraph is the answer. To be thankful for what’s on your table. I always feel sad for restaurant eaters when I’m eating a sun warmed tomato off the vine…
    But I also think we should be informed and aware of much of the world that goes hungry or lacks clean drinking water…and do what we can to help…or at least not waste the plenty we have.

  2. That’s not eating well; that is conspicuous consumption and unrestrained self-indulgence. I do think that wasting food and exploiting resources is wrong, but good food well prepared is a pleasure, and there is nothing wrong with an occasional pleasure. There is a balance between caring for oneself and caring for others. I spend money on ski trips, but I also volunteer for handyman jobs, give away things I no longer need, donate to people in need, and speak out for right & wrong.

    1. This old, former, moral philosophy (ethics) student is tired of ethics. So exhausting. So divisive. So controlling. I think it is actually impossible to hold and live 100% ethical positions — everything eventually runs into self-contradiction or inconsistency. I like the idea of seeking joyful relationships that nourish each other with good food grown by us or people we know. If doing so inspires others to do so, wonderful!

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