Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
I apologize in advance for ruining your lunch or latte or whatever dairy confection you are enjoying. No, I’m not going to go into gruesome detail PETA style about how your milk is produced, although there may be a few nuggets of information you would prefer not to know. Actually, the purpose of this blog is to encourage you to question your food-related assumptions and beliefs. I mean, it would be great if you eat less conventional dairy (dairy coming from mass-production factories which are not pretty places), or alternatively it would be nice if you at least gave thanks to the cows that suffered in order to bring you that dairy. Ok, Ok…I’m going to move away from the PETA style (It’s so tempting though!).
I would like to ask you a question: If you were offered a cup full of refreshingly cold breast milk, would you drink it? Sorry, did I disgust you? Sorry you’re so sensitive. I assume that if you wouldn’t have the breast milk, you wouldn’t dream of drinking cow’s milk, right? I mean, I get not wanting to drink bodily secretions. I just don’t understand why the thought of an adult drinking breast milk gets people up-in-arms, while choosing not to drink cow’s milk gets people worked up as well. They are both bodily fluids intended for that mother’s babies. Considering that we are not cows, breast milk is actually better suited to our systems than cow’s milk! Additionally, conventional dairy farms are not pretty or clean places. There is a reason that most milk is pasteurized. It is out of necessity because dairy cows are not living in clean conditions. That brings me to raw milk. Would you drink that? What if I told you that the raw milk was from a small local farmer whose dairy cows were well-cared for and weren’t wallowing in their waste like conventional dairy cows? What if I told you that some raw milk has lower bacterial counts than pasteurized milk?
For some reason, our beliefs about food are very strong. Perhaps because food is so intimately connected with our health and well-being and serves as a reflection of the culture we live in. Whatever the reason, I encourage you to question your strong-held beliefs. Are they rooted in facts and careful consideration, or are they backed by irrational fears or not wanting to know too much about where our food comes from?
Now…let’s all petition Ben and Jerry’s to make breast milk ice cream!
What it is: Food Justice Fellows are a cohort of spirit-based organizers connected to the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP). They are young or young-at-heart folks working to build local food economies that are sustainable and just, and people who make connections (and help others do so) between local food and hunger issues and related global concerns.
PHP will arrange for at least one training/networking opportunity for the Fellows. Small support grants from PHP (given through the presbytery, a congregation or local organization) may also be available to help the Fellows with food justice/local food economy events they may organize in their region. PHP will correspond with and do conference calls with the Fellows regularly (currently 2nd and 4th Mondays at 4:00 pm (eastern time)) to exchange ideas, share best practices, discuss readings and provide updates on the U.S. and global food sovereignty movement and related work inside and outside the church. The Presbyterian Hunger Program staff and Food Justice Fellows will provide each other with mutual support, accountability and camaraderie. Hunger Action Enablers, Mission Advocates and other leaders throughout the PCUSA are potential resources and connectors.
Why it is: The purpose is to connect Presbyterians to the agrarian roots and lessons of the Bible to inspire and equip them – together with their congregations and communities – to fight hunger and poverty by rebuilding local food economies here in the U.S. and to support the same overseas through advocacy and campaigns.
If you are selected, work plans will then be developed for the year in consultation with PHP. Call Andrew at 502.569.5388 for additional information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Actual questions asked by real people...
1) Is this only for Presbyterians?
* Presbyterians and persons of other faiths are invited to apply. The majority are Presbyterians (so you must be able to tolerate them), but we have other faiths represented as well. That said, Fellows must be currently doing or be willing/planning to collaborate with Presbyterians and Presbyterian congregations in their food justice/local food economy building work.
2) I am wondering about the work/job component. Can the applicants have any job in the food industry?
* If the Fellow is employed, the job doesn't have to be food-related, but they would need to also be doing food justice/sustainable ag-related work (either paid or unpaid) as part of their life.
3) Does the fellowship come with a stipend so I can look for internships?
* There is no stipend. There is some funding available for events or activities that the FJF coordinates or is active leading around food justice, i.e. a program with community, churches, presbytery, government, etc. (for example, the Fellow organzes a county-wide Food Justice Teach-In with a tour of local farms, 'food deserts', a processing plant and city hall to talk with government officials about starting a Food Policy Council. PHP could provide a matching grant of $1000 or so to help make that possible.)
4) Can I be located anywhere in the U.S.?
5) Where and when would the face-to-face gathering be for the Fellows?
* We will meet face-to-face at least once a year as part of the Food Justice Fellows Program. The 2013 gathering was in DC at the Ecumenical Advocacy Days Conference on Food Justice in April. The 2014 gathering has not been determined yet. Participation in this gathering is very important for the Fellowship.
6) Would you provide funding for transportation to this gathering?
* There are scholarships available based on need, but we will expect the Fellow to raise some funds. The lack of personal funds will not limit participation.
7) Is the fellowship a year long program?
* We will do annual work plans, but those that wish to and who are in good standing would continue on year after year if so desired.
That evening I sat on my front porch and stared at my green grass and budding bushes. I wanted to throw a 2 year old style tantrum, of not understanding why the world was so unfair. I was ready to take control of my food system. I was ready to get back to the dirt and simpler times. I was ready to turn my yard into a demonstration of how to do so. But for reasons beyond my control, I could not.
How was it that the ecological revolution I saw budding in myself and my backyard was so easily derailed by the previous industrial one of my predecessors?...
Thanks to my roommate’s luck with winning tickets, we attended a great film series event the other night showing the documentary, Eating Alabama. The premise around the film was to capture all the trials and tribulations that the filmmaker and his wife had while trying to eating only food found in their home state of Alabama for one year. This concept is nothing new to the food movement in fact people have been doing it for a while now, take Barbara Kingsolver and her record in, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” However something in particular moved me that night. Granted it ...
What are you eating?! To be honest I don’t really know. Quite often it is wrapped in paper and plastic and has unpronounceable ingredients listed, but that still doesn't answer the question.
I had a conversation this last weekend that highlighted the root of the problem we face in trying to change our food system: lack of understanding. My friend’s husband asked me what I was doing in my new job. As soon as we clarified that I was not in fact working at a nursing home (I’m not sure how he got this idea!), I began the monumental task of explaining what I do. What I do is not easy to explain.
I do a mixture of community organizing and support capacity-building at a variety of food justice organizations ...
I love Wednesdays. Wednesdays mean seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and catching up on the goings-on in the neighborhood. We congregate, and we share. The tantalizing smells of freshly baked bread, hot coffee, and a potpourri of home-grown herbs awaken my senses. I hear old men reporting to one another about the past week while they display their jams and their leafy greens. A young couple from the county over prepares tea samples as their young children play under the table. Decorative chocolates are arranged with care by the woman with the curly red hair, and people young and ...
Food Justice Learning Call
Hosted by the Presbyterian Hunger Program & the Food Justice Fellows
Why a Garden?
Community, Church and Market Gardens & Resources for Urban Agriculture
Monday, April 15
12:00 noon (eastern); 11am (central);
10am (mountain); 9am (pacific)
Call 424-203-8075 and Enter 180305#
Hear presentations from three experienced urban agriculture practitioners & join in a conversation about the multiple benefits (and challenges) of gardening in community. Learn, share struggles and what works, connect with people and resources, and be inspired to build just, resilient and sustainable food economies.
Presenters: Laura Henderson, Executive Director of Growing Places
Jeremy John, Quixote Center
Laura Collins, Healthy Food for All Program Coordinator, CAIN
“From dust you were made, and to dust you will return.”
Our bodies were created of earth; they are sustained by what we intake, which is grown by, or feeds off the earth; and ultimately we will return to the earth.
I wonder however, if the modern world version of the phrase should be, “From fossil fuels you are made, to them you cannot return”
Food Justice…. The combination of these words does not evoke much if any emotion in my parents’ household. The phrase flows through uninterested ears who are more concerned with keeping their refrigerator full than finding out where their food comes from. My parents trained my younger sisters and me to eat everything they placed on our plates. We were taught to be thankful for whatever food we were given. Although these are good qualities to instill in children, this practice simultaneously taught us that all food, if edible, is acceptable.
My parents belong to the lower middle class. Because of ...