Two Shades of Green: Food and Environmental Sustainability

Steven Vanderheiden

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The politics of food illustrates an enduring tension within environmental ethics and green political theory: the oft-assumed division between those thinkers for whom humanitarian goals remain prominent but who situate them within a normative framework stressing environmental sustainability and those thinkers who reject any distinctively humanitarian interests as untenably anthropocentric. In posing the problem as a moral dilemma between feeding people and saving nature, light and dark green value theories are made to appear in stark contrast, with the former prescribing the delivery of food aid to relieve hunger-related suffering, and the latter rejecting the call. This supposed dilemma between feeing people and saving nature is a false one. The real problem is moral elitism on the part of developed countries where an insidious form of selfishness overemphasizes the role of population and obscures the roles of highly variable rates of consumption upon current environmental ills. An examination of the exemplary case of food politics shows that the exaggerated differences on policy implications of these two value theories can be diminished and that there is potential for common cause.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)129-145
    Number of pages17
    JournalEnvironmental Ethics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


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