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Cornell University

The Ethics of Eating

Cornell University via edX

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You face a difficult moral decision every time you decide what to eat. What impact should animal rights have on your decision? Is the suffering involved in meat, egg and dairy production bad enough that you should go vegan? How do your food choices affect the economy and the environment? Should you become a locavore? Should you eat only sustainably produced, "farm to table" food? Or is factory-farmed food more efficient and ultimately better for the environment?

We also face difficult food-related questions at the political-social level. Should states restrict their citizens' food choices so as to encourage healthy eating? Should governments grant patents on genetically modified crops? And how do we, as a society, implement effective food policies for a rapidly expanding world population?

This class will provide the tools required to reflect clearly and effectively on these challenging questions.

Our goal is to provide a working understanding of some leading ethical theories as well as the central empirical issues related to food production, distribution and consumption. Along the way, students will hear from a variety of scientists, philosophers, activists, and industry participants:

  • Carol Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat
  • T. Colin Campbell, Cornell nutritionist and author of The China Study
  • Mark Bittman, cookbook author and New York Times food writer
  • Marion Nestle, nutritionist and author of Food Politics
  • Joe Regenstein, Cornell food scientist and director of the Kosher-Halal Food Initiative
  • Joel Salatin, alternative farming advocate and author of 9 books
  • Bryant Terry, award-winning chef, author of Vegan Soul Kitchen
  • Brian Wansink, Cornell food and brand psychologist, author of Mindless Eating

Taught by

William Starr and Andrew Chignell


4.5 rating, based on 4 Class Central reviews

Start your review of The Ethics of Eating

  • Profile image for Joanna De Sorrento
    Joanna De Sorrento
    The previous reviewer (Anonymous) must not have looked at much of the course. I just finished it and there were entire sections on gender and race and also interviews with women and people of color -- faculty and students, as well as chefs and activists. They also discussed issues of food access inequality, and food insecurity. And one of their teammembers, a woman, did some of the lectures. To be fair, you have to at least finish the course before giving a review!
  • Profile image for Anabela Da Costa
    Anabela Da Costa
    Muito interessante, com uma abordagem muito sensata. Aconselho a todos aqueles que se preocupam com o ambiente e com a sua saúde.
  • Marjolein V
  • Profile image for Michael Mazzola
    Michael Mazzola

Never Stop Learning.

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