Friday, August 23, 2013

Food justice as spiritual journey

Here's a short piece I wrote for a presentation in Prof. Brad Wigger's class, "Multiple Intelligences in Christian Education," this past spring at Louisville Seminary.  It covers my approach to food and food justice in a shorter form ... an "elevator speech" assuming an elevator trip in a rather tall building.

Food justice has been an important part of my journey since the 1970s, when, as a budding “foodie” in the age of Julia Child and James Beard, I discovered Frances Moore LappĂ©’s thought-provoking book, Food First, and its practice-oriented follow-up, Diet for a Small Planet.   
It was then that I felt a spiritual recognition that IF I answered the lure of the sensory and social pleasure of good food and drink, THEN I should a parallel responsibility to be aware of, and perhaps to advocate for,  the social-justice issues surrounding food.  
Those issues are are not trivial.  They are GLOBAL (food distribution and production economy driving world hunger); REGIONAL (supporting a just agricultural policy and speaking truth to and about  agribusiness) and LOCAL (caring about, and taking action to help resolve, the problems of hungry people lacking a proper nutritional base in our own cities and towns, both by helping with food distribution and feeding programs and by getting involved in efforts to eliminate “food deserts” in neighborhoods poorly served by access to nutritious food and to help teach people how to feed themselves and their children wisely and well. 
How can a  American well-off by world standards enjoy an indulgent meal without being conscious that much about our world and national food system is broken?  Popular food-justice books like Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and movies like Food Inc and Forks Over Knives only amplify this call.   
And, once aware, how can one sit by silently without getting involved?   Matthew 25 clearly commands us:
“… for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. … Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”