Monday, September 15, 2008

Fear of Produce?

By Mikaila Gawryn
Earth Ministry Outreach Associate

I've come to realize that I cannot buy a piece of fruit alone. No, I have not developed a produce phobia. But as Earth Ministry's Three Months 300 Miles food challenge continues I have realized how difficult it is to live out my beliefs in on a daily basis.

The realization came after reading Field Maloney, of Slate online magazine, point out that not all organic is good organic. Slate's article Is Wholefoods Wholesome? articulates a critical weakness in the trendy organic and health-food movement: the promise of a silver bullet.

The typical Wholefoods' or Trader Joes' customer might ask: When organic tomatoes can be purchased from Chile and conventional tomatoes purchased from within 200 miles, which is the better choice? Unfortunately, it is complicated.

The reality, as Slate points out, is that the conventional tomatoes will involve far less carbon emissions, and probably be fresher than their organic Chile counterparts. With the complexities of food systems, it is not always easy to tell how environmentally or socially sound an item is by its label. We can't count on a quick-fix to the ethical food dilemmas of the day. And this is where it gets difficult, as people of faith seeking peace, justice and humility through the work of our lives we need to be informed about the complexities of the system. This will take resources, energy and a critical eye.

How many Christians does it take to buy a piece of produce?

Two at least, but ten is better.

"But who has time, and who has the money?" you may be asking. This is why we need community. We need help finding a loaf of bread that fits our ethics when we don't have the time or the money to research it. We need help finding empowerment when we face the mountains of newspapers reporting on the doom of Global Climate Change. We need help picking out our produce, because the world around us is impacted by our choices.

So as people of faith, and as communities of faith we need to put our energy together. We need to lean on one another in the work of service. At Earth Ministry we work to "Inspire and mobilize" people of faith in taking action on environmental issues. We are a part of your community, and you can lean on us. Here are a few suggestions that we've found helpful.

  • Get started as a congregation: Earth Ministry's Caring for All Creation: At the Table publication will provide you with guidelines for liturgy, education and community activities focused on how to make faith-based food choices.
  • Benefit from the work that has already been done: Consider joining a co-operative grocer that purchases along your ethical lines (they should talk about their purchasing guidelines in their membership information!) As a member you will benefit from the research, time and resources that they put into their purchasing.
  • Know the lingo: A few minutes of vocab research can can help you understand what your labels are actually saying. Check out the Consumer Reports Greener Choices Eco-Labels Center.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful and inspiring. Thanks!