Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 26

FOOD FIGHT CONFERENCE PLENARY 1 - Finberg & panelists than the question of, how is this food good for me? How is it healthy for me? And then there’s the question of equity. How do our food systems support or exclude certain groups of people from being able to have access to that kind of food or to even be able to ask those questions? How does this food connect me to the world, and is it good for me? And so those are separate questions; they’re all important questions, but to some extent we need to separate those out when we talk about our relationship to food. Jeanna Moyer: I’m thinking about the animal issues that Dr. Kolmes raised. I come at this from a secular philosophical perspective rather than a theological one. Even though I’m a Buddhist, I also have this other life as a philosopher. And so, certainly the utilitarian people like Peter Singer—his book Animal Liberation—is perhaps less known in this group but well known in the philosophical community. And from that perspective, the moral questions is, is there suffering occurring? And I think that most of us would not disagree that the animals that are in those feed lots that are crowded and drugged and eventually, I think they call it processed, are experiencing suffering in the course of their lifetime. From a philosophical perspective, that’s the real key question. Is there suffering? And that’s not to say that suffering is never tolerable. But does the good that comes from suffering outweigh the evil—if you want to call it that—that is also the result of that? So it’s this kind of moral calculus, they call it, this happiness calculus, this hedonic calculus, though I’ve never found a calculator that will give me the neat solution to those kinds of questions. And for me certainly the animal suffering is compelling. Another aspect of my study has been biology, and I get very concerned about over-tinkering when we genetically modify organisms that then cross-pollinate in nature, and we’re not really sure where that might take us and the potential suffering that could come from that down the road based on what seems to me to be—I know we’re supposed to have a civil dialogue—sort of greed-based motives: people are in a hurry to yield more cheaply and make more profit for themselves. BHG: That’s helpful. Thank you. I’ll throw this out to all of you. A lot of what I’m hearing is a reflection on the competing values of our food system. Something that I think keeps coming up is “cheap.” We go after cheap food. And of course that value is there for a reason. First of all, none of us like to spend more money than necessary. Second of all, we’ve discussed the inequity, the lack of access a lot of people have. And so, if our food were produced in higher quality ways, and that were to lead to an increase in costs, what would the other tradeoffs be? Would part of our nation go starving? What are these tradeoffs? Convenience, time, nutrition: there are a lot of values here at play. How do you see those things interacting? 23