Catholic Social Teaching and Food The dignity of every human life is the foundation for Catholic social teaching (CST). The right to life for all persons, based on their identity as precious children of God, means that all people have basic rights to those things that are necessary for them to live and thrive, including the right to food. Our commitment to the value of each human life should be reflected in both individual choices and in the policies and structures of society. The bishops of the United States have reflected on CST, agriculture, and food in For I Was Hungry & You Gave Me Food and other statements, summarized below.
2. The Call to Family, Community and Participation. The human person is not only sacred but also social, living and developing in community. The way we organize our society impacts human dignity and the ability of persons to live in vibrant and healthy communities. Policies that favor larger scale farm operations can lead to a loss of economic viability for smaller scale family farms and the depopulation of rural communities. Hunger impacts families everywhere by interfering with children's ability to learn and develop and often forcing parents to sacrifice essentials, such as access to health care or children's education, in order to provide sufficient food for their families. Hunger and poverty in developing countries leads to increased immigration and family separation. Catholic social teaching urges that the voices of people suffering from hunger and smaller scale rural farmers and ranchers should be present in decision-making regarding policies that affect them.
3. Option for and with the Poor and Vulnerable. We maintain a special concern for
poor and vulnerable people, including those who are hungry here and abroad. The primary goal for food and agricultural policies should be access to food for all people and reducing poverty among the most vulnerable everywhere. Trade practices with poorer countries should be fair and should promote the dignity and welfare of farmers in those countries. Important moral measures of the global food and agricultural system are how their weakest participants are treated and whether the system provides access to basic nutrition for all.
4. Dignity of Work and the Rights and Duties of Workers. The economy, including
the agricultural economy, must serve people, not the other way around. Trade policies should reflect the right to economic opportunity for all farmers, no matter where they live. Workers should have access to an adequate income that can provide for their families' basic needs, including the need for food and nutrition. Farm industry employees and other workers should be able to support themselves and their families through their work and provide for important needs like education, health care and retirement.
5. Solidarity. The world is not just a market; it is the home of our one human family. Our interdependence crosses
national, ethnic, and cultural boundaries. We...