Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletJune 17, 2019

Earth Concerns News

Food Practices Are Coupled with "Our Call to the More" by Sister Mary Lou Dolan, CSJ

      Aware of our ACall to Mystery, Call to More,@ we prepare for the 2007 Congregational Chapter and our August CSJ Days. What might this call mean in relation to the Home/Land Committee=s challenge to devote ten percent of our food budgets to purchasing local, fair-trade or organic food? Marianne Comfort (buying local foods), Betsy Van Deusen (fair-trade products) and Clare Pelkey (Aslow@ food) gave excellent suggestions in recent issues of Carondelet East. I would like to suggest that food practices are necessarily coupled to our call to Athe more.@

Alfredo Sfeir-Younis challenged us to deepen our collective consciousness, and Carol Zinn , our presenter for CSJ Days, speaks of the personal and communal challenges Aaround choices made daily by each of us that do, in fact, impact our global world@ (CE, May 2007). Food is a way to respond to these challenges because food choices have global impacts.

We can feel powerless about making a difference in large, complex issues such as climate change, societal violence or poverty. Our individual and corporate actions toward justice for all members of Earth=s community do make a difference, though. Our choices express our values. They impact planetary and economic systems. Our choices empower one another and can provide alternative models of sustainability. In the area of food, our actions promote justice, more or less.

Shifting some of our food budgets into the purchase of local foods keeps money in our local area and supports more local initiatives. If participation in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) does not work for you, try patronizing a Farmers= Market. These markets are increasingly available in urban areas, especially in the summer; supporting the farmer who grows your food helps you to know and appreciate your food more fully. Ask the produce manager in your supermarket to stock locally available seasonal foods. Competition is strong among stores, so responsiveness to customers is seen as a Amarket edge.@ Buying local foods lessens transportation=s impact on food costs and lessens global CO2 emissions from both processing and transportation.

Learn how to cook whole or less-processed foods. The food-processing industry in the United States uses about ten calories of fossil energy for each food calorie produced, energetically wasteful. Buying food grown in other countries supports more fossil-fuel use, more clearing of forested land and more fertilizer and pesticide use. As oil becomes harder to extract, it will take more fossil energy to provide industrially produced food. The more we enjoy locally grown food, the less dependent we become on industrial agriculture (growing, processing, transporting), and the more healthy our participation in Earth=s Afood chain@ will be.

Learn how to freeze or preserve seasonal foods; a real treat in winter, they taste better and are more healthful than processed versions.

Shift to a less meat-centered diet, a good way to do more with less. Given our typical diets, one or two meatless meals each week will not result in protein deficiency. Conditions for humans and other animals in Afactory farms@ are abusive and ecologically unsound. Eighty percent of grain grown in the United States is fed to livestock in the United States; about 35 calories of fossil-fuel energy are needed to produce one calorie of industrial beef (factory-farmed beef found in supermarkets); 70 percent of the antibiotics produced in the United States is fed to livestock for nontherapeutic purposes; 2400 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of US beef. AIndustrial@ meat is highly fossil-fuel dependent and ecologically wasteful. Eating less Afactory-farmed@ meat weakens all these destructive systems and does so on a global scale.

Moving into more sustainable food patterns is not difficult, may start small but is able to be achieved using a variety of approaches. It is an easy way to make a difference and to begin shifting to more sane food practices. All of us eat, so each of us and each of our local communities can choose to be a more neighborly member of Earth=s Community. We choose whenever we eat, and we choose more than the item we consume. The costs are about much more than money. As Wendell Berry says AWe cannot live harmlessly or strictly at our own expense; we depend upon other creatures and survive by their deaths. To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of creation. The point is, when we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament; when we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration.@ (Wendell Berry. The Gift of Good Land. SF: North Point Press, 1983, 1981. p. 272)


(July-August 2007)