ABSTRACT

At first sight it might be difficult to imagine that something as mundane as food might have a connection with the abstract realm of ethics. However, the juxtaposition of extensive malnutrition alongside great wealth in developing countries, such as India, is only one among many points that one might deploy in arguing for an ethical dimension in food studies. In this chapter we cover a range of issues that are not usually grouped together. First, there is a discussion of the ‘human right to food’ that has been proposed in an international legal framework as a solution to hunger. Second, we introduce the ethics of the relationship between humans and the animals we use for food. Third, we then argue that food regulation by the state arose, in part at least, from notions about what is ‘good’ for the consumer, and that food policy retains the important function of protecting the public from poor quality and diseased foodstuffs. Finally, there is a discussion of the role of non-governmental organizations in campaigning on the subject of food and the efforts of private citizens in deepening the food awareness of civil society. This arises from a definition of responsibility for food that goes well beyond the state as a formal and centralized institution.