Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Just eating?

justeat240.jpgI learned through this news story about a new study resource, "Just Eating? Practicing Our Faith at the Table." The seven-week curriculum was written by Jennifer Halteman Schrock and explores the connections between food and justice and spirituality.

The six units in the curriculum are:
  • Sharing Food as Sacramental
  • Nurturing the Body
  • Hunger
  • Food and the Environment
  • Creating Community with Food
  • Responding to God's Call
Although I did not know this resource was being prepared, a number of events over the last several months have caused me to be asking whether there is a resource that can help thoughtful people get their heads around some of these issues. These events have included: conversations with neighbors in financial straits concerned about how their families will eat; shopping and noticing that it is increasingly difficult to find basic, unprocessed foods with which healthful meals could be made; and those occasional 'wake-up' moments when I recognize with shock my own poor choices about what I am eating because I didn't take the time to plan to fix something appropriate for my own health needs.

Over the past couple months in particular I've found myself thinking about the intersection of food with justice. I was pleased to see that Yum! Brands, the largest chain of restaurants in the world, has adopted a Supplier Code of Conduct, which will require all of its U.S. suppliers to be able to verify their compliance with a number of socially responsible practices. This Code is in addition to specific policies of Yum!'s subsidiary Taco Bell, who is requiring their Florida tomato growers to pass through an additional penny a pound for tomatoes to the migrant workers who pick them. Policies such as this can set a standard for others in the industry.

Tuesday night at the Meal and Ministry, one of the children present asked who made the food we were eating. I started to take the credit, but quickly had to admit that someone else harvested the grain, someone else ground it into flour, someone else made it into noodles for me to cook, etc. It is almost impossible to do so simple a thing as eat a meal without being connected to an enormous network of often forgotten people who all made the meal possible.

As I reviewed the materials in "Just Eating?" I particularly appreciated the observations that the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand took place in a setting of political oppression and likely at a time when civil unrest was reaching dangerous levels.

Free download of the participants' and leaders' guides as well as ordering information can be found here.

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