Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
I know it is a bit cliché to talk about thanksgiving and thankfulness, so please bear with me. I would like to introduce a unique way to cultivate thankfulness through the Buddhist practice of Metta (meaning lovingkindness). Metta is just a desire that others be happy and free from suffering. We recognize that everyone seeks happiness, but it can be challenging to find. Life is hard. Even people you really dislike experience this same essence of being human. When you wish others well, whether out loud or in your head, you are cultivating Metta. There is, however, a more concrete ...
"Thanksgiving Schmanksgiving! There's nothing to be thankful about when it comes to food," complains Stanley the Stinkbug. "It's either a factory-farmed turkey or an organic turkey I can't afford? What a choice!
Sometimes the situation can seem dismal with hunger on the rise, food deserts, pesticide corporations buying up seed companies, and diet-related disease," drones Stanley. "The smelly list goes on and on, and people don't give a hoot! Just a bunch of couch potatoes watching sports all day."
"Stanley, you may be watching too much network news," replies Chris Carrot. "People all over the country and planet are working together to build food economies that are fair and more sustainable -- while supporting nearby farmers! These stories just don't make the big headlines."
Chris continues, "Neighborhood leaders and groups are bringing fresh, local food to their communities, Stanley. These are initiatives to be thankful about! One Great Hour of Sharing gifts help fund a program in Oregon to train immigrant families in farming skills at Huerto de la Familia. In Louisville, one initiative has turned teens into ambassadors of fresh produce and another holds food justice classes and brings in local produce for Fresh Stop markets in their lower-income neighborhoods."
"New initiatives are dealing with all the food waste in our system. Students are demanding better and fairer food in their cafeterias. And watch the video of the first nonprofit supermarket just opened in Pennsylvania. It's an oasis in a food desert," added Chris.
"Yeah, yeah, a few random examples." growls Stanley. "What about the advertising that food corporations bombard us with everyday? Have you seen Anna Lappé's brand-new Food Mythbuster video, "The Myth of Choice: How Junk-Food Marketers Target Our Kids"? It's terrifying. All you've described doesn't amount to an ant hill."
"No, Stanley, it's happening everywhere," exclaims Chris! "Presbyterian camps and conference centers around the country are smelling the roses of food justice! Ghost Ranch has revived its farm, Stony Point is producing veggies all over their campus and is putting in a greenhouse as we speak. Joseph Badger Meadows Camp and Eastminster Presbytery in Ohio is establishing a working farm and training program, right on their land!" gushes the Carrot. "And how does a cattail stir-fry sound? A new movement among Native Americans is bringing back traditional foods and changing lives!" continues Chris.
"Okay. Not bad, but what about global hunger? Those giant free trade agreements will make it even tougher for family-scale farmers?"
"Yes, we need to advocate to halt Fast Track and call for transparency and fairness in the Trans-Pacific Partnership to protect farmers overseas," say Chris "Luckily, policy makers are beginning to admit that export-oriented cash crop farming is not the answer to ending poverty. In fact, research shows that it is small farms that are the key to creating global food security!
Presbyterians can support great agricultural development by giving to the Presbyterian Hunger Fund and by funding great projects through the Food Resources Bank in Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And we have La Via Campesina and food sovereignty movements around the world -- such as the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and the US Food Sovereignty Alliance — to thank for building strong coalitions to resist injustice and build just and sustainable food economies everywhere!"
"Very impressive!" admits Stanley. "And as for the turkey, my farmer neighbor is actually giving me a free-range turkey in exchange for my promise to stay out of her vegetables. Come on over at 3:00."
In case you hadn't heard, PCUSA launched their version of the food stamp challenge on Sunday. Read staff accounts: here , here, and by searching the hastags #snap, #snapchallenge, and #pcusa. The challenge came an interesting time when on Nov. 1st Congress passed cuts around $5 billion from the Federal Food Stamp Program, effecting 47 million people. More on that can be found in these articles from the Washington Post and NPR .
Even though I receive food stamps currently, I decided to partake in the challenge. Because I work heavily with organizations involved in local food, my resources warrant ...
Where is your compassion…and if you claim to have it, when does it connect to your actions
You fooled me into believing I was born in a land overflowing with milk and honey,
A land of plenty,
your propaganda neglected to say that those who are impoverished or live in disadvantaged circumstances are not promised a place at the table,
how is it that so few can have so much while so many have so little,
must I crawl at your feet in hopes I may catch a crumb that escaped your plate,
then pray you don’t snatch ...
The aroma of macaroni and cheese, collard greens, chicken, ham, green beans, potato salad, yams, corn pudding and corn bread slithers up my nostrils. Four generations of my family form a circle and link hands. We bow our heads for prayer. My uncle asks God to bless the food and the hands that prepared it. We whisper our thanks and say “Amen” in unison. We part and create a path for the elders to make their plates then the children. Everyone has a place at the table. We eat and laugh for hours. Plates are licked clean. Stomachs are full. Pants are bursting at the seams. We find comfort at the table, where our family congregates and share the fruit of their labor. Never do we discuss where our dinner comes from. Never do we discuss the health related consequences of the food we eat. All that seems to matter is the taste and the fact that we have plenty.