Monday, August 9, 2010

Food, Hunger, God, and Us

We have a Faith and Wellness group at my church, and on Saturday, we met to share a meal and to talk about our relationship with food and what that has to do with our relationship to God. It was a lovely evening, the kind of evening I longed to have when I've been at churches that didn't have similar opportunities.

In some ways, I thought we didn't delve very deeply into the systemic reasons for hunger. We talked about our own issues with finding time to grocery shop and cook, but we didn't spend much time talking about families who don't have the money to buy food. I'll always remember a dark Wednesday in 2008, when the Dow was plunging; it got down towards 7000, and I started to feel very scared.

Then I went over to First Lutheran to help serve dinner to the homeless. During the service after dinner, when the pastor asked for prayers, one of the homeless men said, "That we may find food tomorrow." My possible economic woes, the nation's economic woes, were all put into sharp perspective.

I realize that food issues are all part of the same issue, the larger issue of how we nourish ourselves and make sure that everyone else can provide nourishment for themselves and their families. I know that food justice must expand to address issues of sustainable agriculture and what it means that our food travels so far to get to most of us. I realize that the issue of industrial agriculture may in the future be seen as the greater sin than letting some parts of the world starve. I worry about the fact that we've shifted to such monocultures. I know my history, and the Irish potato famines should serve as more of a cautionary tale to us.

I also know that we seem to go in cycles. In the late 1970's and early 1980's, I was surrounded by lots of grown-ups who were talking about these very issues. Yet here we are, 30 years later, having similar conversations. What would it take to institutionalize some of the changes that we seek?

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