Holy Cross Events to Focus on Forgotten Ethics in Food Movements

January 25th, 2017 by 

Food ethics 2017
Holy Cross will host three events in February to highlight the ethical issues around two popular food movements, locally-sourced foods and Meatless Mondays. Photo by: Tom Rettig.

The College of the Holy Cross will host three events in February to highlight the ethical issues around two popular food movements, locally-sourced foods and Meatless Mondays.

Margaret Gray, author of “Labor and the Locavore: The Making of a Comprehensive Food Ethic” (University of California Press, 2013) will give a talk titled “Forgotten by the Food Movement?” on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Rehm Library. The talk, sponsored by the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion Ethics and Culture, is free and open to the public.

The “locavore” movement makes a moral argument that locally-sourced food is healthier, more environmentally sustainable, kinder to animals, and saving local farms. But whether you buy your food from a supermarket or the local farmer’s market, Gray argues, predominately low-wage and non-citizen workers grew it. These workers lack protection of labor laws, are discouraged from assimilating in their communities, and are often afraid to speak out about their conditions. Gray, an associate professor of political science at Adelphi University, asserts that by romanticizing agrarian values in local farming, food critics and local food advocates are ignoring the “institutional marginalization” of farmworkers. Her conclusions are based on 10 years of field research in the Hudson Valley, where the farms supply New York’s upscale restaurants and farmer’s markets.

Some Holy Cross students, faculty and staff will engage the farmworker labor issue more deeply in classroom visits and discussion Feb. 2-3 with Oscar Otzoy, a member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and Yaissy Solis, who represents the Student/Farmworker Alliance. The groups work to promote farmworker justice and systemic change in the food industry. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, with their student allies, has successfully negotiated Fair Food Program agreements between farmworkers, Florida tomato growers and retail buyers such as Subway, Whole Foods and Walmart to educate, implement and enforce fair labor standards. Otzoy and Solis will lead a public discussion Thursday, Feb. 2 at 4:30 p.m. in Rehm Library on how to raise consciousness around the human rights of farmworkers and the role students play in advancing protections in U.S. agriculture.

On Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 4:30 p.m. in the Rehm Library, the Office on Diversity and Inclusion will host a fishbowl-style discussion on Meatless Mondays. Introduced during World War I, when food was scarce, today Meatless Mondays is an international movement that encourages people to abstain from eating meat one day a week to improve their health and the health of the planet. In his most recent encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis raised important ethical, philosophical, environmental and moral considerations that have led to wider discussion about our individual and collective relationship to the earth, the environment, the world’s poor, and animals. This discussion is a way for community members to hear different viewpoints and reflect on this concept. The event is free and open to the public.

 

For additional information, please contact Jessica Kennedy at 508-793-2419.

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