Metabolic agricultural ethics: Violence and care beyond the gate

Metabolic agricultural ethics: Violence and care beyond the gate

George Cusworth1

1 Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

claas 2147239

A substantial body of scholarship now exists describing an agricultural ethics of care. This work has integrated insight from feminist ethicists into research on food production, human–nature relations, and agricultural land use. As scholars elsewhere in the humanities have discussed, though, there is often a violence committed in care's name. In the case of food production and farming, I argue that the focus on affect, local multispecies relations and a proximal encounter-based ethics risks obscuring ethically significant and potentially violent food system dynamics that unfold beyond the farm gate. To better accommodate these remote yet important outcomes, I argue that scholars deploying an ethics of agricultural care should pay greater attention to the metabolisms of the farms, labs, nurseries, gardens, and allotments they study. Such an approach can accommodate those things that enter the case study site (fertilizer, animal feed, seed, etc.) and those things that leave it (vegetables, grain, pollution, etc.) as well the more-than-human transformations and interactions that take place within it. By being attentive to these material inflows and outflows, new ethical responsibilities emerge to act in the speculative hope that violence can be minimized, and care can flourish across a broader spatial range.



Publication details

Cusworth, G. (2023). Metabolic agricultural ethics: Violence and care beyond the gate. Progress in Environmental Geography, 0(0).