A Values Framework for Evaluating Alienation in Off-Earth Food Systems

Food Ethics 8 (23):1-16 (2023)
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Given the technological constraints of long-duration space travel and planetary settlement, off-Earth humans will likely need to employ food systems very different from their terrestrial counterparts, and newly emerging food technologies are being developed that will shape novel food systems in these off-Earth contexts. Projected off-Earth food systems may therefore potentially “alienate” their users in new ways compared to Earth-based food systems. They will be susceptible to alienation in ways that are similar to such potential on Earth, where there are points of overlap between off-Earth food systems and any of the multitudes of ways in which food systems on Earth are structured. They will also be susceptible to new forms of alienation, as we encounter scenarios that are genuinely structurally novel to humanity. These are especially important to consider since there are comparatively fewer analyses of these food systems where they differ from existing ones. We propose five non-exhaustive sources of value beyond nutrition our individual relationships with a food may possess: gustatory, social, cultural, epistemic, and authorial value. Using these, we offer examples of ways in which an off-Earth food system may exacerbate or alleviate alienation for humans in long-term off-Earth food systems.

Author Profiles

Holly Andersen
Simon Fraser University
Elliot Schwartz
CUNY Graduate Center


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