Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletJune 17, 2019

Earth Concerns News

Shop and Eat in a Way That Blesses the Earth Community by Sister Lin Neil, CSJ

Over the past ten months, the Home/Land Committee has been focusing on food issues. We=ve discussed food in connection with global-climate change, the poor, sustainability, fair trade, fast food and genetically modified foods. We=ve encouraged local communities to set aside a portion of their food budget in order to purchase locally raised food, organic food, and/or fair-trade foods. We=ve stressed food this year just as we spotlighted water last year because food and water issues are so incredibly urgent to the health of the whole planet and all her creatures. Food is a sacrament, a sacred reality, binding all of creation in communion. Paula Gonzalez says, ATo take a bite of food is to experience the universe, to enter the profound mystery of transformation we call life.@

On a spiritual level we grasp this sacramental idea. When we receive the Eucharist, we experience our communion with Jesus and all our brothers and sisters. We celebrate our commitment to become what we are: the Body of Christ. We strive to do this in our daily life. We make the connection of this Aspiritual@ food to the food of our physical existence because the Eucharist is a meal, given to us at the Last Supper.

This sacramental ABread of Life@ really relates to the whole of our lives. Miriam Theresa MacGillis, OP of Genesis Farms says, AWhen we understand that food is not a metaphor for spiritual nourishment but is itself spiritual, then we eat food with a spiritual attitude and taste and are nourished directly by the Divine.@ At every meal our hungers are nourished; at every meal we are transformed; at every meal we are connected with the dear neighborsCthe human, soil, water, plant and animal neighbors!

For these reasons, it is so very important to be conscious of our food: where it comes from, how far it must travel, how it is grown and gathered, who grows and gathers it and how it is packaged for sale. Food is not a commodity like laundry detergent or hand cream. Wendell Berry, ecologist, farmer and poet, explains: ATo live we must daily break the body and shed the blood of creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness and others to want.@

In our culture, this attitude is a great challenge. We often see food as a way to fuel up, so that we can keep going, somewhat in the same way as our cars keep going! The communal, sacred act of preparing food and eating is often lost in the rush. It struck me recently that food shopping is a contemplative activity. I don=t do most of the shopping for our community, but when I do it, I try to reflect on the quality of the food and the cost to those who harvested it. Choosing organic foods, which are now available in our supermarkets, is a gift to Earth. Stopping at a farmers= market during the summer is a way to support local agriculture. Practicing mindfulness at a meal by sitting at the table with a grateful attitude and taking time to savor the food is so important. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests this verse to help us practice mindfulness: In this food, I see clearly the presence of the entire Universe supporting my existence. This is another way to Asay grace.@

As we enjoy the gift of food, let=s remember to shop and eat in a way that blesses the whole Earth Community and promotes systemic change and nonviolence toward Earth. Now that is a mouthful!

(Source: EarthLight: Journal for Ecological and Spiritual Living)


(September 2007)