Where does food meet faith?
It’s easy—sort of easy—to believe our faith should impact our personal food choices, as we talked about two weeks ago in part one: Where Food Meets Faith. . .in our Bodies. And definitely faith should play a role in everything we do in the church, right? Even eating? That was last week: Where Food Meets Faith. . .in our Churches. But food meets faith at one more intersection: our planet.
Food meets Faith on our world, the footstool of God.
This has two inextricably linked parts. The planet and the people.
Our world is very populated. Disease, poverty, and pollution run rampant and are often driven by greed. We can blame our Western governments and corporations all we want, but they only represent the society we live in. We’ve all helped to create the mess. Sure, you may have created less of it but, if you’re reading this on an electronic device (is there any other way to read this?), you’re one of the privileged ones. One who has, not one who has not.
We want everything instant and entertaining, and this includes food. We give very little thought to how our choices affect others, but the list is lengthy.
World hunger is nearly completely a political problem, not a lack of food. (Google it!) Food is withheld from people who can’t pay for it. It’s withheld from people supporting the “enemy” side. Political figures use food as a threat, a bribe, and a reward.
Does that mean the planet itself isn’t in danger from the way we eat?
No. Those of us who have wealth affect the planet and its population directly every time we make a choice in the grocery store.
Every time we buy packages of meat we say YES to feedlots and cruelty to animals.
Every time we buy “regular” eggs we say YES to multiple chickens crammed into cages too small for even one of them to spread its wings.
Every time we buy nonorganic produce we are saying YES to pesticides and herbicides, not only in our own bodies and our kids’ bodies, but in the faces of those who grow our food.
Every time we go through the drive-through or buy quick meals in the forms of cans, foil packs, and boxes we say YES to chemicals and preservatives in our food, along with genetically modified organisms.
Every time we buy nonorganic, non-fairtrade coffee or chocolate, we say YES to deforestation, hazardous chemicals. . .and child slavery.
Google it. Google “cocoa slavery.”
Love your neighbor as yourself? Who is your neighbor?
Jesus told the Pharisees that the greatest commandment was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” He went on to say, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.”
How are we loving our neighbor when we demand they—and often their young children—work in hazardous conditions to grow our food? When cocoa growers use child slaves to make our chocolate bars? When masks are not provided to protect from poisons? When poisons exist in anyone’s food—ours, or theirs?
What can we do?
We in the Western world need to stop living in our bubble. We need to examine the effects our choices have on others. We need to lobby for an end to slavery, for an end to hazardous agricultural practices, for an end to politically-driven hunger.
We need to stand up for our planet and its inhabitants.
Where does food meet faith? They meet every day, everywhere. Our Christian faith should impact every single choice we make regarding what goes in our mouths, for the good of our bodies, our churches, and our planet.
Do I make perfect choices? I hang my head in shame. No, I don’t. But the first step is breaking the bubble. It’s facing up to what we’re doing.
Only then can we “love our neighbor.”
Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV)
(Photo of Ugandan street children taken by Rachel Ryckman. Used with permission.)