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Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

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November 29, 2010

The Earth is coming alive

"The Earth is coming alive," or as Dr. Ellen Davis phrases it: The earth is a living creature, with its own integrity in the sight of its Creator. Dr. Davis has been providing the Hunger Program, the Agrarian Road Trippers, and many in the United States who have read her work (such as The Manna Economy), a biblical basis for understanding the power dynamics and theological interpretation of the industrial food and farming system. This highly technified, energy-intensive system has all but replaced family-scale and organic farming, which of course had been the dominant food system not a century ago. In this new essay called, A Living Creature: A Biblical Perspective on Land Care and Use*, Dr. Davis says that when it comes to food, ...I have been surprised to find that even those who do not habitually read the Bible care what it says. Perhaps there is a kind of practical theism that informs the thinking of those who deal daily with the essential means of life. Especially they care when they realize (often with surprise) how much the Bible has to say about maintaining adequate food and water supplies, about protecting the fertile soil and at the same time the economic viability of farming communities – all matters of vulnerability, urgency and indeed danger in our current era of industrialized agriculture. In A Living Creature, which you should download right now and savor, Davis reflects on the relationship between how we eat and the horrific oil disaster the planet just experienced. The modern food system, which hungers for and consumes 10% of our petroleum, is practically connected to this tragedy, but also theologically -- The wound in the ocean floor and our dominant food production practices are also connected ideologically, in that both reflect a profound misunderstanding of the created order and the human place in it. That misunderstanding is in the first instance not scientific but theological. Without setting off the spoiler alert, here is one more image from the essay that sets the context for her insightful perspective: Having watched it bleed for months, we are better able to see that the earth is not a machine, nor is it a convenient repository of useful goods. Journalist Naomi Klein comments: 'After 400 years of being declared dead, and in the middle of so much death, the Earth is coming alive.' The wound in the ocean floor and our dominant food production practices are also connected ideologically, in that both reflect a profound misunderstanding of the created order and the human place in it. That misunderstanding is in the first instance not scientific but theological. "The Earth is coming alive," or as Dr. Ellen Davis phrases it: The earth is a living creature, with its own integrity in the sight of its Creator. Dr. Davis has been providing the Hunger Program, the Agrarian Road Trippers, and many in the United States who have read her work (such as The Manna Economy), a biblical basis for understanding the power dynamics and theological interpretation of the industrial food and farming system. This highly technified, energy-intensive system has all but replaced family-scale and organic farming, which of course had been the dominant food system not a century ago. In this new essay called, A Living Creature: A Biblical Perspective on Land Care and Use*, Dr. Davis says that when it comes to food, ...I have been surprised to find that even those who do not habitually read the Bible care what it says. Perhaps there is a kind of practical theism that informs the thinking of those who deal daily with the essential means of life. Especially they care when they realize (often with surprise) how much the Bible has to say about maintaining adequate food and water supplies, about protecting the fertile soil and at the same time the economic viability of farming communities – all matters of vulnerability, urgency and indeed danger in our current era of industrialized agriculture.


November 19, 2010

Seeds – How to criminalize them

UPDATE: BREAKING: Senate votes cloture on S 510 – must now be voted on in 60 days. Linn Cohen-Cole, in her post Seeds - How to criminalize them, asks us to wake up to the implications of this bill. Lots of email has been flying around the cyber heavens about this Food Safety Bill. The Bill language starts below and the rest can be linked to in Linn's article. Read with your critical mind engaged and give your thoughts in the comments section below. Wisdom says stop a bill that is broad as everything yet more vague even than it is broad. Wisdom says stop a bill that comes with massive penalties but allows no judicial review. Wisdom says stop a bill with everything unspecified and actually waits til next year for an unspecified “Administrator” to decide what’s what. Where we come from, that’s called a blank check. Who writes laws like that? ”Here, do what you want about whatever you want and here’s some deadly punishments to make it stick.” Wisdom says know who wrote that bill and be forewarned. Wisdom says wake up. Here’s the bill. Let’s use our imaginations and extrapolate from the little bit it reveals and from the reality we know. SEC. 206. FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITIES. (a) Authorities- In carrying out the duties of the Administrator and the purposes of this Act, the Administrator shall have the authority, with respectto food production facilities


November 11, 2010

The Sacred 'neath Your Soul!

"...the soul is the animating element of our humanity and the way we touch the divine. But the spelling is wrong. Soul is properly spelled s-o-l-e. Where is your soul/sole? On the bottom side of your bare feet, in touch with the sacred ‘neath your sole, the soil." One more snipet to make sure you read the treasure below -- "But let’s not lose the main point: cultus (worship), culture and agriculture—we belong to these as the miraculous clods who are cultivators by calling. We are here to maintain the fertility of the soil for on-going life, to “renew the face of the earth,” in the phrase of Ps. 104, and to give glory to God. The ancients would have understood Wendell Berry well. “In talking about topsoil,” Berry says, “it is hard to avoid the language of religion.” So put aside the superstition that soul and soil are separate categories. Decent land-use is not about economics, it’s about cultivation and the state of our souls."


November 4, 2010

Sharing God's Bounty: Community gardens are part of a growing movement addressing the root causes of hunger

Check out the cover story from the latest issue of Presbyterians Today. Reporter Darrin Youker shows how churches are addressing hunger in their communities with church gardens. Sharing God's Bounty - Presbyterians Today November 2010 Presbyterian congregations are in the garden for a lot of reasons. They are donating the harvest food pantrties or soup kitchens - which often don't have fresh produce - as part of their local hunger ministry. Congregations are reconnecting with the land while tending to Creation, and gardening builds community and strengthens the congregation. Also, children love gardens! Sometimes the best way to get kids to eat veggies is to show them how a carrot grows, and churches are tapping into this phenomenon. The Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) has a series of resources for adults and children called Just Eating: Practicing Our Faith at the Table that explores the relationship between the way we eat and the way we live. Youker's article tells the story of four different Presbyterian churches (three of which PHP helped to start with the One Great Hour of Sharing offering), but we know that there are hundreds of other similar ministries across the country. Read the article and then let us know what your congregation is doing. Email php@pcusa.org or comment below. Read the full article at http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/today/cover/


November 3, 2010

What is food sovereignty anyway?!

Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation. It offers a strategy to resist and dismantle the current corporate trade and food regime, and directions for food, farming, pastoral and fisheries systems determined by local producers. Food sovereignty prioritises local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal - fishing, pastoralist-led grazing, and food production, distribution and consumption based on environmental, social and economic sustainability. Food sovereignty promotes transparent trade that guarantees just income to all peoples and the rights of consumers to control their food and nutrition. It ensures that the rights to use and manage our lands, territories, waters, seeds, livestock and biodiversity are in the hands of those of us who produce food. Food sovereignty implies new social relations free of oppression and inequality between men and women, peoples, racial groups, social classes and generations.