Ethical food

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Ethical food is organically produced food that is also free range. It addresses concerns about animal welfare and environment, and follows straightforward and aboveboard practices both at the production and the distribution level. Ethical food is a combination of all three -- organic food; fair-trade food; free range and local food.


Why should I be aware of this?

  • Ethical food aims to benefit people, animals and the planet, and to treat each fairly and with dignity.
  • It is for the aware and the conscious consumer.
  • Ethical food is inclusive. It involves and is answerable to the people that are affected by it.

All about ethical food

Ethical food is all about making a choice at the point of sale, based on the available information. The food is produced and traded fairly and incorporates local and small businesses. It addresses both human, personal health and environmental concerns. It tries to reduce the consumers' carbon footprint as it is low on food miles. It also addresses health concerns of the consumers.

There are two main advantage of buying local produce apart from reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  1. With the food co-operatives buying locally produced products, some of the money in kept within the community
  2. The local store can make individual buying decisions, often based on the suggestions of their customers.

Presence of labels such as Fairtrade, locally produced and organic indicates that the food product meets ethical standards. Some regulations and certification bodies are also emerging to identify and asses the claims of food product being ethical in nature. However, in products with more than one ingredient, the complexity of the accreditation process increases – each one has to be traceable and meet the given standards, guaranteeing a long-term fixed price to the farmers and investment in community projects such as healthcare programmes, schools and adult literacy.

Organic food imported from abroad does not qualify as ethical food as it adds to carbon emissions. Similarly air trade food which is not organic or locally produced also does not meet ethical standards. Ethical food is also free range and antibiotic free.

Indeed, not all imported products come with a higher carbon footprint. Lamb imported from New Zealand, for instance, is four times as energy efficient as British lamb – and that includes consideration for food miles.

What can I do?

  • Grow your own food
  • Promote local farmers. Say no to imported organic produce.
  • Go for Fair trade label.


  • Organic and Ethical Food - The Road to Your Table
  • What's the next ethical food?
  • The growth of ethical shopping