Eating our way to holiness

There’s a growing movement in the farming and grocery industry to consider the religious teachings about food when consumers are deciding what to purchase. This isn’t simply a matter of more farmers growing food according to kosher principles or more butchers becoming more sensitive to scriptural injunctions about how animals should be slaughtered. There’s also a focus on questions about the treatment of migrant workers by the producers, organic techniques and sustainable agriculture. The New York Times reports:

“Christians, Jews and Muslims who see food through a moral lens are increasingly organized and focused on showing their strength. The Religious Working Group on the Farm Bill, a national coalition of more than a dozen religious organizations, is lobbying Congress for legislation to help small farms. The National Catholic Rural Life Conference is helping congregations and universities in the Midwest buy local produce from family farmers.

Environment-minded Jews are asking the leaders of Conservative Judaism to rewrite their kosher certification rules to incorporate ethical concerns about workers, animals and the land. Hazon, the Jewish environmental organization, has set up community-supported agriculture programs, or C.S.A.’s, in which customers purchase shares of a farm’s harvest.

‘This is the first time I have seen such a deep and growing involvement of the faith community,’ said Brother David Andrews, who is on sabbatical from his job as executive director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and has followed these kinds of issues for 30 years.

If this nascent cause was taken up by large numbers of churches and synagogues, the economic effect alone could be profound. ‘The religious movement is a huge force,’ said Arlin S. Wasserman, the founder of Changing Tastes, a consulting firm in St. Paul that advises food companies and philanthropic organizations on trends in food and agriculture. ‘Already, religious institutions oversee the production of $250 billion per year in food if you bundle together halal, kosher, and institutional buying.

‘Religious leaders have been giving dietary advice for decades and centuries, telling us to eat fish on Friday or to keep kosher in your home. What we are seeing now are contemporary concerns like the fair treatment of farm workers, humane treatment of animals and respect for the environment being integrated into the dietary advice given by the churches.’”

Read the rest here: Of Church and Steak: Farming for the Soul

How about the readership of the Cafe? Are you seeing something like this movement in your local congregations or communities?

Past Posts