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Ethics Of Food Sources Focus Of Author, Philosopher Visiting South Coast


For most of us, this biggest question about mealtime is “What are we going to eat?”

But, for tens of thousands of people on the Central and South Coasts, and millions around the world, the question is often “Do we have something to eat?”

Technology has expanded the world’s ability to create more food. At the same time, it’s opened new questions about food safety, and the ethical and moral constraints involved.

A leading philosopher examining the ethical issues related to the things we eat is speaking in Ventura County Tuesday.

Dr. Paul Thompson is the W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agriculture, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University. He says America has a remarkable amount of food available, which makes the fact that so many people go hungry a true contradiction. Thompson says the fact is that the U.S. hasn’t had the same type of food supply issues for decades that other parts of the world face regularly. He says the last major food shortage in the U.S. was during the depression, and wasn’t actually a supply issue, but was economic in nature.

The philosopher says food is America has become a better value, making up a smaller percentage of the average household’s budget. But, as to whether we are better off when it comes to food supplies , he says it's  a matter of the time frame under discussion.  Thompson believes foods are safer from pesticides, and other chemicals no than they were two decades ago.  But, he believes that if you compare foods to a half-century ago, the purity has declined. 

Thompson says there’s also some new fragility to our food systems which is cause for concern. He says climate change is a concern, and that the spread of invasive insects and plants around the globe poses constant challenges which need to be addressed.

Thompson is the author of several books on food ethics. He’s speaking at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks Tuesday. The free lectures are at 11 a.m., and 4 p.m. in CLU’s Samuelson Chapel are part of CLU’s Harold Stoner Clark Lecture Series.

CLU is the parent of KCLU Radio.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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