Food Ethics Statement
Food ethics is the understanding of the moral consequences of our consumer choices about food. Our approach to food can have positive or negative influences on our world. Industrial commercial agriculture has many negative consequences, including:
- damage to the environment – from erosion, pesticides, fertilizers, and greenhouse gases
- exploitive practices affecting workers
- food shortages and food waste
- inhumane treatment of animals in massive confined feeding operations
- decreased nutritional quality
The Earthwise Team believes these consequences are significant and should influence where and how the food we consume both personally and at church-sponsored events is raised and purchased.
Food sold locally at farmers' markets, co-ops, or through CSA (consumer-supported agriculture) is generally grown on small family farms nearby. These farms tend to raise a diversity of produce and livestock. The farmers are generally concerned about the health and viability of their crops, animals, and land. By selling locally, these farms reduce the environmental costs of transporting their foods long distances. Science shows that this food is actually more nutritious.
In contrast, foods grown on industrial farms are often part of a monoculture – a single type of crop or livestock – which negatively impacts the local ecosystem of animals, pollinating insects, and birds. Often, large industrial farms ship their foods hundreds or thousands of miles for processing and sale, resulting in a significant environmental impact.
St. Paul's UCC is an Earthwise Congregation that strives to use natural resources like water, paper, and energy wisely. We encourage our members to experience conservation at church and then do the same at home. The Earthwise Team believes that we have a responsibility to use food wisely as well, at events like Fair Trade Coffee Hour, Journey of Faith, Soup & Substance, and the Artisan Festival.
We all have been consuming industrially-produced food for years. It's time to examine what it costs, beyond what we pay at the cash register – the impacts on the environment, animals, food quality, farm workers, the local community and our health. Industrial agriculture involves growing one crop on a large area of land where formerly there was a diversity of plants and animals or raising huge numbers of animals in confined spaces. Industrial agriculture has many adverse effects, including:
- Contributions to climate change from animal waste, production and use of petroleum-based fertilizers, energy to produce and transport food, and forest clearing are significant
- Animal waste, which causes odor and water pollution
- Crops and livestock are more susceptible to disease or pests
- Depletion of soil nutrients or loss of topsoil from harsh farming methods
- Excessive application of fertilizers and pesticides is needed. Runoff of these chemicals contaminates rivers and lakes, harming bees, butterflies, and other local wildlife
- Farmers must follow procedures dictated by corporations for industry benefit, instead of using their own farming expertise
- Livestock raised in crowded facilities are often dosed with antibiotics, lessening the effectiveness of antibiotics at curing diseases
- Studies show that foods raised with industrial farming methods are less nutritious than those from traditional farms
We can all make positive changes by supporting smaller farms that follow healthier practices. A good way is to purchase food from local farms at co-ops and farmers’ markets, or by participating in a CSA (consumer supported agriculture). Growing your own produce is also an excellent way to know exactly how your food is grown. Buying organically grown produce and free-range or grass-fed meat, eggs, and dairy products (locally grown or otherwise) also helps avoid many of the problems with industrial food.
Let's all make wiser, better-informed choices, whether it's food, energy, water, trees or other resources. We can and must make a difference.
The Earthwise Team
Revised: December 2018
To help inform healthy food choices, the Environmental Working Group has developed lists of the worst and best foods in terms of pesticide residue. We recommend that you consider these lists when purchasing your food.
These foods tend to have the most pesticide residue when grown conventionally. Try to buy organic whenever possible.
Potatoes Bell & hot peppers
These foods tend to have relatively little pesticide residue, even when grown conventionally. If you cannot buy all organic, these are the safest non-organic choices.
Broccoli Sweet corn
Onions Frozen sweet peas
Honeydew melons Kiwis