Few things reveal as much about who we are–and what we are–as the food we eat. Whether we are prone to give them much thought or not, the food choices we make everyday affect a good deal more than our own health and sense of well-being. Our decisions concerning what to eat are also decisions about whether or not to participate in various local and global systems of food production, distribution, marketing, and regulation. The demands to which these systems are responsive, and the logic according to which they function, can suggest food practices that pose threats to our own well-being, to the well-being of other humans and non-human animals, and to biological systems of various kinds. As the seriousness of these unintended consequences becomes more and more apparent, so too does the need for discussion of the many ethical challenges that arise when we reflect carefully about what and how we eat.
In an effort to continue responding to this need, the Penn State Rock Ethics Institute is sponsoring a series of lectures on Food Ethics during the 2011-12 academic year. The series will begin on August 29th with a lecture by food ethicist, and W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agriculture, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University, Paul Thompson. The lecture, which is entitled “What Makes Food Good? The Terrain of Food Ethics and the Agrarian Tradition”, will take place from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. EST in the Foster Auditorium, Paterno Library, on Penn State’s University Park Campus. The lecture is free and open to the public. It will also be streamed live and then made available for later viewing through the Penn State Library Mediasite.
On the Tuesday following this lecture, we will also be working together with the Center for Democratic Deliberation to co-sponsor a Town Hall Forum on Key Issues in Food Ethics for First-Year Students in the Paterno Fellows Program. The forum will feature Prof. Thompson and a panel of experts from the Penn State Community talking about what they perceive to be some of the most pressing food-related questions we face today. After the forum, which will take place on Tuesday August 20 from 4:00 to 5:30 EST in the HUB, Heritage Hall, we will invite everyone to join in the discussion of the central questions addressed there on this blog.
If you are interested in a bit of an appetizer before the events, take a look at these interview clips with Paul Thompson: