Who we are
Our vision is of a world where everyone eats healthily and sustainably, enjoying food that is produced and traded fairly and humanely. We are experts on fairness and sustainability in food and farming, and a leader on ethical food issues.
We are a charity, and our work is not for profit. We are not affiliated to any political party or religious organisation. We aim to make ethical decision-making a standard practice in the food and farming sectors. We work with changemakers in the food system – in civil society, policymaking and business – to help find a way through controversial and complex issues surrounding food and farming.
We stand up for our principled ethical approach: respect for wellbeing, autonomy and fairness. We value our independence and are non-profit (a registered charity in the UK). We promote inclusivity by taking into account diverse perspectives (for example in relation to gender, culture and faith). We take a long-term view and believe in tackling root causes. We believe in openness and honesty, and we listen to, and learn from, each other.
Our work ranges from questioning the power of the supermarkets, to highlighting the issues of food poverty and workers’ rights, to investigating the impacts of air freight, genetic modification, and water scarcity. We’ve brought diverse voices around the table to find a way forward for meat, livestock and dairy, and advocated for fair play in how businesses engage with each other and their workers, with everyone being given a fair say. Our Food Citizenship project explores ideas of autonomy and the idea that we are not just consumers at the end of the food chain, but participants in the food system as a whole.
Our Council Members are all leaders in their relevant fields, and appointed as individuals. They bring a broad range of expertise to our work, from academic research through to practical knowledge of farming, business and policy. Our staff and volunteers are all committed to our aim of creating a food system that is fair and healthy for people, animals and the planet.
Our Mission and Role
Our mission is to build fair and resilient food systems that respect people, animals and the planet – where it is easy to eat well and global hunger is a distant memory; where farmers and food producers make a decent living, animals are treated humanely, and the environment is respected.
Our core belief is that enabling people to make considered decisions in the long-term interests of people, animals and the planet will transform debates and unlock progress towards a better, fairer food system.
Our role is to bring changemakers together to drive a paradigm shift in the food system. We:
- Challenge accepted ways of thinking
- Equip people with ethical tools, critical analysis & space to make considered decisions for the long-term good of our food systems
- Promote considered solutions to food system challenges
The Food Ethics Council was established in 1998 with support from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Farm and Food Society. We became a company limited by guarantee in 2000 (No. 03901671) and registered as a charity in February 2004 (No. 1101885).
We are considered by stakeholders to be experts on fairness and sustainability in food and farming, and the leader on ethical food issues. A history of the Food Ethics Council, written by Founder Director Ben Mepham can be found here. Geoff Tansey, long-standing Council member, also wrote a paper giving a personal reflection on the way the Food Ethics Council has approached social justice in the food system, which can be read here.