Food, Faith, and Family
Food can be a complicated thing. As someone with a horrible track record when it comes to gardening, as much as I love the idea of a huge backyard garden where I grow my own delicious vegetables, it’s nothing more than a pipe dream. (I’ve killed mint. Pretty much anyone will tell you mint isn’t something that can be killed. Unless you’re me, apparently.)
Add in the fact that I live in the suburbs (and love it here!) and I’m fairly certain my neighborhood actually has restrictions on what size of garden I might be allowed to have in my back yard completely shielded from any neighboring eyes anyway and, well, being completely self-sustaining isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. I am trying this year though. My eldest son finally talked me into a single planter of various yummy things. As you can see, it’s completely over planted (a lot of that is because the three year old “helped”) but if we actually get something to eat out of it, I’m going to be very impressed.
Thankfully, being in the ‘burbs, I do have some options at my disposal to make it a little easier to do my part and at least try to buy locally grown. The grocery store I shop at has a local produce section right there in the store. This is lovely because the nearest farmer’s market doesn’t actually have much produce, though they have some killer kettle corn and farm cheese as well as locally raised and slaughtered beef. But the more thought and prayer I’ve put into trying to be conscious of the environmental impact of our family’s eating habits as part of being a good steward of the Earth, the more I’ve realized that the intersection of food and faith goes farther than that.
Every Christmas, our family donates chickens or sheep or a cow—something along those lines—to an African village through one of the many Christian organizations helping families provide food for themselves in the midst of abject poverty. This is always a great conversation with the kids about what we’re doing and why and how blessed we are to not have to worry about where our next meal is going to come from.
But recently, I’ve been reminded—and convicted about—that one in eight Americans suffers from hunger. Food insecurity isn’t just an international problem. And while yes, absolutely, the poverty in Africa is something we need to work to help alleviate. Hunger and poverty right here in our own back yard deserves our attention as well. We’ve participated in Thanksgiving food drives for the local food bank, but I think it’s time we stepped up and did more throughout the year to help.
I’m slowly becoming aware that food and faith factor into so many other areas of our lives, and all of them circle back around to being a good steward of the Earth, the bodies, the families, and the communities God made us part of. When you take a meal to a sick friend or a new mom, when you participate in food drives or take the time to read a label and then choose produce that hasn’t flown half-way around the world, you’re putting faith in action through food. Some of how we manage our stewardship is going to, by necessity, differ from one person to the next because we all have different resources available to us, but so much could change for the better if everyone took a minute to consider and really pray about what God would have them do as their part.
Elizabeth Maddrey is the author of contemporary Christian romance and women’s fiction full of characters who are Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace. Her current Taste of Romance series explores how Christians should respond to food issues like sustainability and food insecurity. Check out the first book, A Splash of Substance.