Moral Cultures of Food:
Access, Production, and Consumption from Past to Present
UNT Initiative in Food Culture and Environment
University of North Texas
Feeding ourselves has long entangled human beings within complicated moral puzzles of social injustice and environmental destruction. When we eat, we consume not only food on the plate, but also the lives and labors of innumerable plants, animals, and people. This process distributes its costs unevenly across race, class, gender, and other social categories. The production and distribution of food often obscures these material and cultural connections, impeding honest assessments of our impacts on the world around us. In our own day, it is tempting to envision local, fair trade, organic, and humane food systems as less harmful options to the ravages of corporate agribusiness and global food capitalism, but these alternatives each carry their own significant social and ecological costs, as no shortage of critics have pointed out. In past times and places, other similar conversations structured the acceptable boundaries of food practices that condemned living beings to the fate of digestion.
The Moral Cultures of Food conference asks what we might learn from the critical study of these past efforts to understand and resolve the ethical dilemmas of eating. They invite scholars of any rank, from graduate student to full professor, to come to the University of North Texas for a three-day program of panel presentations, workshops, and public discussions designed to address the historical dimensions of food ethics and to provoke new avenues of interdisciplinary research in the field of food studies. The conference will be hosted by Jennifer Jensen Wallach and Michael Wise, co-founders of UNT’s Initiative in Food Culture and Environment. Special guests will include Carol J. Adams (author of The Sexual Politics of Meat) and James McWilliams (author of Just Food). The organisers will invite conference participants to contribute to an edited volume to be published by the University of Arkansas Press.