Monday, December 01, 2008

Of Eating... Ethically

This--ethical eating--being the big (and I think it is, justly) new issue being discussed and wrestled with by UU congregations, I wanted to start a conversation here.

But first, a grace.

I did not grow up in a family that said grace. I found the practice... curious... well into my 20s. Most of the time, it seemed rote and hasty, and I was baffled. This poem, when I encountered it, hit me like a pile of bricks, and it became--for me--the essential core of what I pause and htink on before I eat. Not said aloud, but considered.
Song of the Taste
(Gary Snyder, from REGARDING WAVE (New Directions, 1970))

Eating the living germs of grasses
Eating the ova of large birds

aa the fleshy sweetness packed

aa around the sperm of swaying trees

The muscles of the flanks and thighs of

aa aa aa soft-voiced cows
aa the bounce in the lamb’s leap
aa the swish in the ox’s tail

Eating roots grown swoll

aa inside the soil

Drawing on life of living

aa clustered points of light spun
aa aa aa out of space
hidden in the grape.

Eating each other’s seed

aa aa aa aa eating
aa ah, each other.

Kissing the lover in the mouth of bread:

aa aa aa aa lip to lip.
I've poked around at this enough to realize that it's a vast array of entangle issues.

Is it ethical to kill and eat (at all, or animals, or certain animals)?
Is it ethical to treat animals (that will be used for food) inhumanely? Is that only an issue for their slaughter, or their lives?
What are our ethical obligations to the members of a species and to the species?
What about organic/non-organic food?
Local or non-local?
Effect on the local ecology?
Effect on the ecosphere (impacts on climate change, etc)?
The working conditions and treatment of those working on raising, processing, and transporting food?
The payment of a decent (living) wage to those performing those tasks?
Inequality in access to adequate food?
Cost of food?
Sustainability of the practices of raising and transporting food?

What else? Have I missed other areas or subtopics?

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