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Raj Patel to examine food justice at Jan. 22 event

Raj Patel
January 17, 2013

In a world where the trend of food consciousness is rapidly growing, it seems contradictory that one billion people are under-nourished and almost two billion are overweight.

It is these staggering factors that are leading several Arizona State University faculty members from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies (SHPRS) to bring attention to the growing need for discussion surrounding food justice.

On Jan. 22 SHPRS will hold a Food Justice discourse featuring controversial author, journalist and food policy expert Raj Patel. The event will be held at 4:30 p.m., in the Carson Ballroom in Old Main, on the Tempe campus. It is free and open to the public. In his talk, Patel will share his views on the global politics of food, the repercussions of current food policies may have on society and how to solve this problem.

“Raj Patel demonstrates an awareness of the influence of our food consumption on producer’s rights, to the health of our planet and our bodies,” said SHPRS director, Matt Garcia. “His visit will impart the importance of taking a balanced approach to a study of the food crisis on our planet.”

Joan McGregor, professor of philosophy, says that public awareness of food selection will begin opening up the logic behind selection influencers. She states that many people have been buying and consuming out of impulse or because they are uninformed about their choices.

“People need to be thinking about what their food choices say about the issues they support. When you buy cage-free eggs or free-range meat is it because you are concerned about those politics or you just want to be healthier?” she said.

Part of this awareness involves understanding labels such “organic” or “all-natural,” and the effect that these growing processes have on the planet and the social justice issues they raise.

“Organic is beneficial to the environment since it does not involve many synthetic pesticides that are harmful to rivers and other natural resources. Unfortunately, in term of labor, organic does not equal more justice for workers,” said Garcia.

He adds that while it is important to argue for better food production methods, consumers should similarly push for improved conditions for farm workers.

However, changing purchasing and consumption habits may not be so simple, as food is closely tied to family heritage and values.

“When we look at why people eat what they do it’s usually because their grandmother made it a certain way and so that is how they like it. Food is part of our own life story.”

Share your food story at the discussion on Jan. 22. Visit the event page for more information.