On Ethics and Ethical Food


– by Steve Waldegrave

Kia ora! My name is Steve and I am writing to you from the top of a hill in Wellington, Aotearoa / New Zealand. It’s not any random hill (that would be weird); it’s where I live.

I’m half Polish, half Kiwi and bit further back, a bit Irish, a bit Scottish, and even a tiny bit Indian (on my grandmother’s side). It’s complicated.

I have spent pretty much all my working life trying to make lives better by advising politicians how to make good decisions (which they call ‘policy advice’). I’ve done this mostly in public service leadership roles in the UK, Australia and NZ. In my spare time, I have done things like volunteer for Amnesty International, Moral Fairground, community gardens and the Victorian State Emergency Services. I’m not sure exactly why I’ve done these things, other than a vague sense that it was the ‘right’ thing to do.

grandfatherMy grandfather after the war

With an Anglican Minister as a father, and Polish mother whose family fled Europe after being persecuted during WWII, I grew up hearing a lot about Christian morals, social justice values and right and wrong. But in my 20s, I discovered I just could not sign up to Christianity – it just didn’t make sense to me that there was a God I should worship who seemed to allow so many bad things to happen.

I have retained some values I grew up with (e.g. try not to cause harm to others) but not others (e.g. go to church weekly). But other than pressure to conform to social norms and the law, I suspect like most late gen Xers, I can’t really tell you why. What are my ethical values and why do I hold them? Why did I reject some values and not others? How ethically do I live really (particularly in relation to my food choices)? We never seem to have time in life to answer these pretty basic questions! But we do seem to have time to upload that last selfie to Facebook.

So, at the reluctant age of 40 I seem to finally have a chance to explore what ethics is through the lens of food, and maybe even how I might live more in line with my own ethical framework (whatever it is!). I hope you find this journey interesting and maybe even useful too.

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