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Choose Food: 

Ethically Benchmarking Food Systems

Choose Food is designed to empower eaters by enabling informed ethical decision making around food choices. 

It is based on a unique framework for assessing the ethics of food products and choosing between alternatives.

Choose Food features three complementary components:

  • Information database with e-commerce and communications features
  • Comprehensive Resource Collection for deeper consumer education on matters pertaining to the ethics of food choice
  • Certification Mark that will enable shoppers to identify food products that align with their ethics in the marketplace

Together, the three components of the Choose Food Project support radical transparency in the global food system and are a tool for transformative change.

Prior to November 2017, Choose Food was known
as Consumers, Certifications and Labels: Ethically Benchmarking Food Systems.
Media and project publications prior to November 2017 use the older project title.

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Team Members

Johns Hopkins Project Team:

  • Alan Goldberg, PhD is the Principal Investigator, Professor of Toxicology; Founding Director (Emeritus), Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Ruth Faden, PhD, MPH, Founding Director, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
  • Jessica Fanzo, PhD, Director, Global Food Ethics and Policy Program, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and School of Advanced International Studies
  • Anne Barnhill, Global Food Ethics and Policy Program, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
  • Nicole Civita, Sterling College, University of Arkansas, and Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics
  • Claire Davis, MA, Research Program Coordinator Coordinator, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Core Academic Team:

Paul B. Thompson holds the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural Food, and Community Ethics at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. He has formerly held positions in philosophy at Texas A&M University and Purdue University. His research has centered on ethical and philosophical questions associated with agriculture and food, and especially concerning the guidance and development of agricultural techno-science.

Bernard Rollin is a distinguished professor of philosophy, animal sciences, and biomedical sciences at Colorado State University. He is a leading scholar in animal rights and animal consciousness. Dr. Rollin has authored numerous influential books in the field, including Animal Rights and Human Morality (1981), The Unheeded Cry: Animal Consciousness, Animal Pain and Scientific Change (1988), Farm Animal Welfare (1995), and Science and Ethics (2006).

Kees van Leeuwen is Principal Scientist at KWR Watercycle Research Institute (Nieuwegein) and professor in Water Management and Urban Development at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development (Department of Innovation, Environmental and Energy Sciences) at the Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University. He has published about 200 reports and publications and 2 editions of a book on risk assessment of chemicals. His research focus is sustainability of water in cities.

Anne Barnhill, PhD, is a Research Scholar at the Berman Institute of Bioethics. Dr. Barnhill is a philosopher and bioethicist who works on food ethics, food policy, and public health ethics.  Her current research focuses on the ethics of non-rational persuasion and manipulation in public health.

  • Nicole Civita, Sterling College, University of Arkansas, and Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Nicole Civita is the Assistant Director of the Rian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems at Sterling College, where she also is faculty in Sustainable Food Systems and the program director for the School of the New American Farmstead. In addition to her role at Sterling College, Nicole teaches Food Justice and Urban Agriculture law and policy courses remotely for at the University of Arkansas School of Law and serves as the Director of its Food Recovery Project.  She was also responsible for expanding the specialized curriculum for the University of Arkansas School of Law’s LL.M Program in Agricultural & Food Law and transitioning the program to a hybrid residential and distance model.

Tara Garnett is a researcher at the University of Oxford, where she also runs the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN). The FCRN is an interdisciplinary and international network operating at the intersection of food production and consumption, climate and broader sustainability issues. Tara’s research centres on the interactions among food, climate, health, ethics and broader sustainability issues; she has a particular interest in livestock as a sector where many of these converge. Tara is also a fellow of the Oxford Martin School.

Project Advisors:

  • Suzanne McMillan, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

Suzanne is the Content Director of the ASPCA’s Farm Animal Welfare campaign. Prior to the ASPCA, Suzanne served as a Farmed Animal Law Fellow at the Lewis &  Clark Animal Law Clinic and spent time researching and writing about farmed animal legal and policy issues, investigating factory farms and caring for rescued farmed animals.

Adele Douglass, CEO, founded HFAC in 2003, and she now directs all of HFAC’s programs and activities. She has served as an invited participant on numerous industry animal welfare committees and has received recognitions from the ASPCA, Civic Ventures, Ashoka and the RSPCA. Prior to her position with Humane Farm Animal Care, Douglass initiated the Free Farmed Program for Farm Animal Services and served as director of the American Humane Association’s Washington, D.C. office.

Steve Wearne is the Director of Policy of the UK Food Standards Agency. He previously served as Director of FSA Wales and with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in a range of posts related to food science and food policy development.

Peter O’Driscoll is the executive director of the Equitable Food Initiative in Washington D.C. He also has served as executive director of ActionAid USA, director of the Private Sector in Development Project at the Center of Concern, and Latin America Director at Ashoka.

Ruth DeFries is a professor of ecology and sustainable development at Columbia University in New York. Her research quantifies how land use changes affect climate, biodiversity and other ecosystem services, as well as human development. She has also developed innovate education programs in sustainable development.

Industry Partners:

Bon Appetit Management Company is an on-site restaurant company offering full food-service management to corporations, universities, museums, and specialty venues. Based in Palo Alto, CA, the company operates more than 650 cafés in 33 states for dozens of marquee clients.

At Bon Appetit, we work with Fedele Bauccio, co-founder and CEO, and Maisie Ganzler, Chief Strategy & Brand Officer.

Fedele Bauccio founded Bon Appetit Management Company in 1987 and launched the Farm to Fork Program in 1994. Farm to Fork represents the company’s commitment to the health of its customers, communities, and the planet itself.  Fedele and Bon Appétit have revolutionized the food service industry, both by introducing fresh, made-from-scratch food to the contract market and by pioneering environmentally and socially responsible practices designed to create a more sustainable food system.

Maisie Ganzler has been instrumental in shaping the company’s strategic direction: she helped develop Farm to Fork, as well as several other sustainable initiatives and purchasing policies. She is also cofounder and president of the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation, whose mission is to educate people about how their food choices affect the global environment and local economies.

In addition to our existing partner, we hope to collaborate with another 3-4 food companies.

Contact us at

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  •  White Papers

The white papers explore different ethical issues in the food system. Areas of interest include plants and crops, animal welfare, food safety, water (impact on and utilization of), environmental impact, public health and nutrition, and occupational and community issues. The white papers provide the basis for deciding which ethical considerations should be included in the overall rating.

These papers have been drafted by the Core Academic Team and developed through a workshop held in March 2017. The papers are available below:

For more details on each expert’s background, see the Core Academic Team section. 

  • Workshop Discussions

In November 2017, the JHU team, Academic Core, and Industry Partners met for the Choose Food Workshop in Baltimore, MD. At this meeting, the core ethical commitments were further refined.

In March 2017, the group met in Shepherdstown, WV to discuss the ethical issues in food production and define the core ethical commitments at the center of the project. The Workshop Summary was written by Dayna Myers, Science Writer for the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

  • Symposium

Our Symposium will take place in November 2018 in Baltimore, MD. At this event, we will share our findings from the project. For more details, see Project Meetings and Events.

  • Book

We intend to publish a book in spring 2019 that draws from the white papers and Symposium.

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Project Meetings and Events 

Choose Food: November 2017 in Baltimore, MD

  • Closed meeting of JHU team, Academic Core, and Industry Partners

Choose Food: March 2017 in Shepherdstown, WV

  • Closed meeting of JHU team, Academic Core, and Industry Partners
  • Opportunity to define White Papers

Our meeting was a great success: to learn more, read the Choose Food Workshop Summary written by Dayna Myers, Science Writer for the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Open Industry Discussion Forum: March 6, 2018 in Baltimore, MD at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Feinstone Hall

  • Opportunity to share White Papers and our evaluation of existing certifications
  • Discussion of practical concerns with implementing the mark
  • Contact us at if you would like to be placed on the mailing list to receive updated information!

Symposium: November 5-8, 2018 in Baltimore, MD

  • Open to the public!
  • Participants include JHU team, Academic Core, Industry Partners, and Advisors
  • Addresses ethical issues in food production related to environmental impact and resource conservation; community and public well-being; animal welfare; labor; and farmers, ranchers, and fishers
  • Presentation of the white papers and consumer information
  • Industry partners sharing corporate policies and initiatives relevant to the mark/certification
  • Symposium publication – book to be published in spring 2019
  • Contact us at if you would like to be placed on the mailing list to receive updated information!

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In the News, Media Highlights, and Publications 

Media Coverage

People Behind the Science Podcast: Dr. Alan Goldberg: Investigating Diverse Issues in the Fields of Food Ethics, Toxicology, and Animal Welfare

Johns Hopkins Magazine: Toxicologist aims to label, rate food producers’ ethical standards (Spring 2017) Seven projects to make progress on ethics and global food security in five years

Blog Posts and Web Contributions

Ethical Guidance for the Supermarket: The Consumers, Certifications, and Labels Project’s Ethical Certification Workshop (2017)

Farm animal production and human health (2017)

New Food Labeling Law (2016)

Farm animal welfare and its relationship to human health (2015)

Food for Thought: Communicating Agricultural Science (2015)

To Till or Not To Till (2015)

The Ethics of Eating (2015)

Coke’s Unconscionable New Ad (2013)

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Contact Us

Are you a potential industry partner interested in attending our Open Industry Discussion Forum? 

Do you know of an existing certification or mark that you think we should hear about?

Questions? Concerns?

Email us at!

Support our work!

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