The professor of religious studies shares stories of making baby food for her children and takes to task companies that put the bottom line ahead of social welfare and care for others.
<p>Professor Rebecca Todd Peters</p>
[/caption]Professor Rebecca Todd Peters in the Department of Religious Studies wrote a viewpoint for the Huffington Post detailing memories of the homemade meals she provided her babies and the manner in which a Beech-Nut corporate executive recently described a drop in consumer spending on packaged baby food.
“Pernicious Moms Threaten Capitalism,” published May 15, 2014, criticizes Beech-Nut Nutrition President Jeff Boutelle for the “pernicious” label he affixed to weakened market demand for his company’s products. Peters argued that Boutelle wasn’t worried about promoting health, sustainability or child wellbeing; instead, his focus was on making profits.
From the column’s conclusion:
“Profits are essential for business success and businesses and corporations are an important and essential aspect of human society. They provide jobs, goods, and services that help make life possible. But this incident highlights the moral bankruptcy of our current economic system. To the extent that capitalism teaches us to value profits over and above other social goods – like paying a living wage to our workers, providing sick leave and vacation time, and the environmental consequences of our production and consumerism – it undermines the strength of our society.“
Peters began her career at Elon in 2001 as the Distinguished Emerging Scholar of Religious Studies. She would soon win the Trinity Prize for her first book, “In Search of the Good Life: The Ethics of Globalization,” which was lauded by renowned philosopher and critic Cornel West as “the best treatment of the complex debate on globalization by a religious ethicist now available.”
Her most recent book, “Solidarity Ethics: Transformation in a Globalized World,” suggests a moral framework for readers living in industrialized nations where capitalism, despite its strengths, exploits people elsewhere on the planet who make the clothes and grow the foods that First World residents consume.
Peters’ myriad accomplishments earned her Elon University’s Distinguished Scholar Award for the 2012-13 academic year. She today coordinates the university’s Poverty and Social Justice program and teaches courses in religious studies, poverty and social justice, environmental studies, and women and gender studies.