Who we are
Our vision is of a world 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.
The Food Ethics Council 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.
We are experts on fairness and sustainability in food and farming, and a leader on ethical food issues. Our work ranges from questioning who sets the research agenda on food and farming, to highlighting the issues of food & poverty and workers’ rights, to critically exploring emerging policy ideas, from meat taxes to plain packaging on junk food. We’ve brought diverse voices around the table to find a way forward for meat & livestock, and advocated for fair play in how businesses engage with each other and their workers, with everyone being given a fair say.
Our Mission and Role
Our mission is to accelerate the shift towards food systems that respect people, animals and the planet. Decisions about our food system are often made without sufficient ethical consideration. This means they are likely to be short-term, single issues and without adequate thought for the wider consequences. We want to ensure long-term decisions are made ‘in the round’ and with sufficient thought for wider consequences.
Our purpose is to bring ethics to the centre of the food system.
Our role is threefold – we:
NOURISH – we bring expertise together and provide ethical tools and a safe space for honest, meaningful dialogue
CHALLENGE – we challenge the status quo and accepted ways of thinking
INSPIRE – we promote ‘in the round’ ethical approaches and considered solutions that tackle root causes
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 creating food systems that are fair and healthy for people, animals and the planet.
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. To see some of the milestones from our first twenty years and read a short explanation of how we were formed, written by Founder Director Ben Mepham, click 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.