I was fascinated by the episode of Speaking of Faith on July 6th looking at the ethics of eating.
After listening to the first half of the show, my mind began to extend the logic of such ethical eating choices to the wider world.
So my big question of "ethical choice" is how can I do so while considering others? Not just those who reside in my local area. Not just those who have available to them the sort of land that Barbara Kingsolver moved to in southwest Virginia. The ethical question for me morphed to “What about the others? "
The question I can still not get out of my head is can her suggested method, a large extension of the locavore ethic, work for the 6.7 billion folks in the world today?
I can see how it might work for many of us in the developed world who have the affluent means to do the sort of thing that Barbara Kingsolver did with her family.
Recall that such local methods of food production were, of course, the only means available to the vast majority of the world in, say, 1800. At that time, a significant number of thinkers in Europe calculated that the world was reaching its productive limit and would soon run out of food ( population was a bit short of one billion.)
Ms. Kingsolver asks about the effects of our consumption, a good question. And she is concerned about the contribution of our consumption on global climate change, a worthwhile concern.
But I ask a different question. What will happen to the other five billion people who are alive today if those of us with the affluence to pull it off return to local production that is so much less productive than the world food production "system" that is in existence today? If food productivity drops, much less food will be available to feed the planet. The “other” five billion persons will not be able to continue to sustain life using the local food ethic and the productive capabilities of 200 years ago. The vast exchange network that exists today, it would appear, has facilitated a much larger world population than would be possible with a locavore ethic.
Take just one example. The 28 million persons in Saudi Arabia depend on worldwide exchange of goods, and free trade of food, in order to sustain themselves.
Ms. Kingsolver asks: "Do you think you can keep doing this without paying some kind of price?"
What about the price of the potential demise of large numbers of people? Will those of us in the West who are rich enough to pull off a local food ethic be interested in "the price" of hunger and gradual starvation of large swathes of the existing world as we pursue our locavore food ethic? And if we are not, how is that, to use Kingsolver's words, "cruelty free"?
More information about text formats