Krieger, William, H.

Advisor Department





Ethics; restaurants; waste; food; consumption; traceability

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Food Ethics: Traceability in the Restaurant

Jake Monaghan Sponsor: William Krieger, Philosophy

In this paper I use my work experience in restaurant kitchens to identify and address a gap in the food ethics literature. Much of the work being done in food ethics focuses on the producers or the end consumers. Philosophers, however, have mostly overlooked a substantial part of the food system: restaurants. Due to the high volume nature of the work in restaurants, and their influence over eating trends, their nature leads to certain ethical commitments. I argue that restaurant owners and workers are in a unique position with respect to the production and consumption divide. Because of their position, the ethical problems associated with restaurants cannot be evaluated according to frameworks related to the producers or consumers alone; something different is required.

To this end, I examine the relatively popular notion of traceability in the food supply chain argued for by Christian Coff in The Taste for Ethics: an Ethic of Food Consumption. I build from Coff's notion by pointing out its inability to account for the role of the restaurant, and suggesting a more robust conception that is useful to the chef and restaurateur.

My claim is that restaurants can be evaluated based on traces of their ethical history. These traces are not limited to the food itself, but include the plated dish, the menu, kitchen and service practices, and more. Keeping this idea of robust traceability in mind gives the restaurateur, whether chef or businessperson, a tool to improve the ethical standing of one's restaurant, and as I will argue, it's profitability as well.

Keywords: Ethics, restaurant, waste, food, consumption, traceability

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