Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Environmental Philosophy / Food Ethics

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Deborah Slicer

Commitee Members

Christopher Preston, Dane Scott


Environmental Philosophy, Environmental Ethics, Food Ethics, Politics of Food, Geography of Food, Ethics of Consumerism


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Applied Ethics | Environmental Studies | Ethics and Political Philosophy | International Relations | Nature and Society Relations | Other Philosophy | Place and Environment


This thesis arose out of a moment of discord, while an environmental philosopher was eating blackberries in the middle of a blizzard in Missoula, Montana. What follows is an attempt to bridge the gap between our principles and our practices, by asking the questions: What does ethical eating look like? Is it possible within our current industrial food system? and If not, what needs to change? Responding to the publication of the 2019 EAT-Lancet report, this essay moves beyond thinking of ethical eating as “healthy” and “sustainable” and challenges the networks of suffering and labour that we take for granted every time we sit down to eat. This essay tells the truths of animals’ living conditions, migrants’ working conditions, and the history of inequitable transcultural relations that has brought us one of our most popular food staples: bananas. Telling these (hi)stories is a partial attempt to overcome the alienation that is a defining characteristic of our current food system. Then, utilising Steven Vogel’s notions of (social) practices and our responsibility for them, and Joan Tronto’s ethics of care, this essay attempts to show how consumer, producer, and policy maker can all do better to mitigate the suffering inherent in our current food system—the industrial food complex. I then discuss three solutions to improving our food system: transparency, auditing, and localisation. Finally, I give the reader an idea of what ethical eating might look like. I call upon my own experience of ethical eating over the past year to help illuminate some of the limitations of our current framework and encourage a “participation” approach on the individual level. I conclude that overcoming the alienation of the industrial food complex will require eating where one is and developing institutionalised networks of practices that compliment this individual practice by making it accessible in our communities.



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