Topic: Should the promotion and use of locally-grown, non-genetically modified, organic produce, if cost effective, be a mandatory ethical responsibility of all participants within the culinary art field? Why/why not?
State why you were drawn to choose this topic, noting any experience you may have already had with these issues, and what the outcome was. At this point, before doing your research and reading, what preliminary answer would you give to the question and why?
I was drawn to this topic by the fact that in my experience local, fresh, organic food not only tastes better, but is also more environmentally ethical and more popular with customers. Although such ingredients can cost more to source, the benefits in the quality of food, reputation of the chef or restaurant, and in environmental sustainability outweigh this extra expense. In my personal experience I have found that customers have a growing awareness of environmental ethics, and are often willing to pay more for ethically sourced ingredients, providing care is taken to promote the benefits of such foods and to provide a high-quality finished product. I have also found that where the ethics of sustainability are ignored in the culinary industry, companies may suffer from a poor public reputation even where products are offered more cheaply.
Experience has also shown me, however, that the best practitioners of the culinary arts are able to influence popular tastes by showcasing the superior taste of sustainably sourced ingredients, and raising public awareness about sustainability. Such practitioners have had a direct influence on my own appreciation of locally-grown, organic, and non-genetically modified foods, and I feel that it is important to spread that influence as widely as possible. Having become interested in the use of sustainable ingredients, my own research has led me to recognise wider ethical benefits, such as the support it provides to small, local producers and their communities, and the impact on the biodiversity of the planet. Apart from the business benefits, therefore, I also feel that the clear improvement in taste and the undeniable benefits to the environment indicated by research mean that there is a definite ethical responsibility for participants in the culinary arts to support and promote the use of sustainable products.
Annotated Bibliography:

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1. Matthias Kaiser, and Marianne Elisabeth Lien. Ethics and the Politics of Food.
This book contains several chapter directly related to the ethics of organic food, the issues surrounding genetic modification, and sustainability. It also provides perspectives from a number of different disciplines, making it a well-balanced source of information on this topic.

2. Christian Coff. The Taste for Ethics: An Ethic of Food Consumption.
This book contains chapters specifically on the production history of foodstuffs, and on traceability: this will provide information specific to the ethics of using locally-grown produce.

3. Peter Jackson. “Values.”
This essay discusses many of the values associated with food production, including the “slow food movement”, which focuses on locally-grown and well-cooked food as an aesthetic pleasure as well as an ethical choice.

4. Ronald L. Sandler. Food Ethics: The Basics.
This book contains chapters specifically relating to an individual’s ethical obligations with regard to global food security, covering the ethics of sourcing food locally and sustainably.

Submit a list of four key topic-specific vocabulary terms that you will need to utilize in your essay. Define each term in your own words.
Organic: In general terms “organic” relates to agricultural processes which avoid chemical and artificial methods of pest-control and growth-promotion. In different countries and regions, it can also refer to a specific legal category of production which meets a set of regulatory standards of production. By using organic produce in either sense of the term, culinary arts practitioners promote sustainable methods of food production.

Biodiversity: “Biodiversity” refers to the variety of different species which co-exist on the planet. In terms of food production, it relates to the dominance of particular species and sub-species when producing crops and other agricultural produce. If practitioners within the culinary arts promote a diversity of foods in their cooking, the production of ingredients adapts to include more varieties, thereby improving the biodiversity of the planet.

Sustainability: “Sustainability” refers to methods of production that operate in a way that does not use up resources irreplaceably. For example, while some methods of fishing remove fish from the ocean at such a fast rate that the fish risk becoming extinct, meaning that fishing would not be possible in the future. Sustainable fishing, in contrast, manages the process of fishing to take only certain quotas of fish, of a certain size, and at certain times of year, to ensure that the fish populations have a chance to recover and replenish, meaning fishing can continue indefinitely.

Food Security: Food security is a concept that addresses the unequal distribution of food across the globe: while some nations have an abundance and variety of foods available, other nations face famine and poor nutrition on a regular basis. Food security aims to ensure that all nations and regions have a secure source of nutritionally complete food for all of the people who need it. By using local produce, practitioners of the culinary arts promote food security by choosing not to use up the foods needed by producers in other areas. For example, choosing a local grain over exotic quinoa means that the third-world countries that depend on locally-grown quinoa for their staple diet are not deprived of their supplies by foreign markets who can afford to pay higher prices.

  • Jackson, Peter. “Values.” Food Words: Essays in Culinary Culture. Ed. Peter Jackson. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013. Print.
  • Coff, Christian. The Taste for Ethics: An Ethic of Food Consumption. The Netherlands: Springer, 2006. Print.
  • Kaiser, Matthias, and Marianne Elisabeth Lien (eds.). Ethics and the Politics of Food: Preprints of the 6th Congress of the European Society for Agriculture and Food Ethics. Oslo, Norway: Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2006. Print.
  • Sandler, Ronald L. Food Ethics: The Basics. New York: Routledge, 2015. Print.