GA approves ‘Ethical Eating’ Statement of Conscience

Debating the Statement of Conscience on Ethical Eating

General Assembly delegates passed their first major item of business Friday morning, approving a Statement of Conscience on Ethical Eating. The statement had been in the works for three years, having been proposed at GA 2008 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The three-page statement calls on UUs to “eat ethically” by becoming aware of the ways that our food choices affect our health and the planet’s health. It makes references to industrial farming, condemns mistreatment of animals and workers in food production, encourages a diet based more on plants than animals, and invites all of us to seek out and advocate for food that is raised responsibly.

It invites congregations to work for “food justice” so that everyone can have “adequate, nutritious food.”

The statement passed overwhelmingly. It had been the subject of a mini-assembly on Thursday at which there had been intense conversation, and it had been debated at workshops at the two previous GAs. In all around 400 congregations had provided input to it over three years.

After all that action there was a minimum of debate when it came up for a vote Friday. Still, several people wanted to be convinced that the statement would not require all of us to become vegetarians. It does not. Several delegates said they believed it would unfairly impact low-income people. One delegate, from Michigan, who described himself as a small businessman, waved his food stamps card and said, “I don’t feel included in this statement. I simply cannot think about these things.” He said he knew he should not be eating highly-processed foods, but for him it was a matter of survival.

The Rev. John Millspaugh, chair of a task force that helped create the Statement of Conscience, said that the 400 congregations that contributed to the statement nearly doubled the number that get involved with most Statements of Conscience. He said the SOC does not dictate actions by congregations, but it does suggest a number of ways they can engage with food issues. “Different actions will make sense for different congregations,” he said.

In the next few days the final statement as approved will be posted on the UUA website. Congregations will be invited to spend the next year discussing and working on food issues.

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  • Nate Walker

    My heart goes out to those on Food Stamps who opposed the statement. Here’s my response:u00a0

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  • Rev. Naomi King

    And my additions to Nate’s invite to practice empathy. Now that we’ve passed a statement of conscience with classist & ableist statements made in favor of it, let’s go back to congregations and engage the ethics of eating in ways that dismantle class privilege and ableism. Assumptions take the cake:

  • Anonymous

    Further to Nate’s comments: Poverty is often about lack of information as well as of money. u00a0It actually is quite possible to live on a vegan, organic, and nutritious diet for little money (you just have to watch what you buy). u00a0But that does not mean that it is easy for those in poverty. u00a0nnThis gap opens an opportunity for action — breaking the monopoly which the fast food and junk food corporations. u00a0

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  • Anonymous

    The cheapest things in my grocery basket are from the bulk items aisle:u00a0 rice, beans, and grains.u00a0 They do requireu00a0cooking – which is at the heart of the issue of cheaper food….cooking basic foodsu00a0requires less money but more time.u00a0 Meat and fish are way more expensive that plantu00a0protein foods, unless you want everything ready-made.u00a0 Any type of processed food adds dollars to the cost, unless it’s full of fillers.

  • Bree Hooper

    To add to Nate and Naomi’s points about survival on foodstamps being also limited by transportation, other assetts etc…u00a0 Myself, I am on a very limited income, severely food restricted (can eat almost no prepared food), and I work.u00a0 A lot.u00a0 I don’t even get food stamps, because I make too much money, yet I have a very small budget when it comes to food, due to my lack of health insurance and the cost of my meds, I spend six to 8 hundred dollars a month on medication alone, then add in car, gas, insurance, basic monthly bills, there’s not much left.u00a0 Some months I live on less than most with foodstamps would.u00a0 My job does not offer insurance at this time.u00a0 I work crazy insane hours just to make ends meet, which exhaust me.u00a0 Cooking is hard for me, just having the energy most days.u00a0 I try the best I can to cook ahead but…u00a0 it’s definitely another factor.u00a0 And eating locally, organically, etc, just isn’t always an option for me in terms of practicality or expense.u00a0 I try the best I can, but can honestly say that with my life where it is at this moment, going out of my way isn’t something I even have the energy for sometimes.nnIt worries me some times that I’ve run into so many people who are too quick to judge others situations or perspectives without walking in their shoes.u00a0 So many people who seem to see everything as black and white, morality be it food or other choices as a black and white easy choice.u00a0 Usually it’s people who haven’t ever really had to make those choices.u00a0 I have to commend those here who have commented with such an open mind, thank you.u00a0 You give me hope.


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