‘Every day they continued to meet together...They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,’ Acts 2, 26
I’ve been asked to write about Food - the sharing of Food is such an important act as a Christian - the early Christians shared meals on numerous occasions, Jesus commanded us to break bread together - it is central to our Church community life.
Food nourishes and sustains us, it comforts us, a tasty meal brings enormous pleasure but our daily Food choices can be difficult - should I buy Organic, is it Fair Trade, is it high in sugar or salt, is it wrapped in plastic, has it been air-freighted, has it been in cold storage for six months?? You can tie yourself in knots. How can we act justly in these confusing times? Over the past century we have moved to an unsustainable food system, which is why it’s time to reconsider our food choices today.
But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable. Jeremiah 2.7
‘Sustainability’ is now an over-used word - what does it mean? Sustainable practices "meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
So how can we make choices that don’t damage our planet and compromise our children’s future still further?
Here are some practical ideas:
- When you can afford it, buy organic and fairtrade. These are better for our planet - no nasty pesticides (which cause problems further up the food chain, including for bees and humans) or fertilisers (which pollute waterways and ultimately impoverish soils), better for the producers, better for our health..
- Try to buy from a local greengrocer or a local farmers’ market - they are both more likely to have seasonal food (less food miles, smaller carbon footprint) and you will drastically cut down on your plastic waste. It will also probably mean that the food is fresher (and therefore more nutritious).
- To avoid ‘convenience food’, if you’re not a confident cook or simply don’t have the time, find 10-30 minute recipes online or in a cookbook (there are always books like this in charity shops). For example Jamie Oliver or Joe Wicks.
- If you’re cooking on a limited budget, buy food at the end of the day when there are discounts. Buy pulses and grains - full of nutrition and cheap. Make a big batch of food and stick half of it in the freezer for another day.
- ‘The people ate all they wanted, and Jesus told his disciples to gather up the leftovers, so that nothing would be wasted.’ (John 6:12). Waste nothing; don’t buy more than you need (don’t be tempted by the bargains), keep leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch (so much tastier the next day and a shop bought sandwich has little nutritional value, is adding to our waste mountain and has a big carbon footprint). In the UK, over 100,000 tonnes of edible food goes to waste every year. That’s 250 million meals in the bin. Find out about the amazing organisations sourcing surplus food - Good to Go, Plan Zheroes, Foodcycle, Karma, Olio, FoodCloud, Approved Food, Clearance XL, Low Price Foods, Star Bargains - just google any of these and learn how to access (heavily reduced and often free) surplus food at the click of a phone.
- Cut down on your meat and fish consumption. There are multiple reasons to eat less meat - from rainforest destruction to animal welfare issues to water consumption. If you don’t know the (environmental or health) reasons, watch a film about it (Cowspiracy, Film Inc, Rotten, What the Health or Carnage). And Fish - for me, it’s common sense - our seas are full of plastic - and we know that fish are ingesting plastic. I use the precautionary principle - it makes sense!
And finally, here’s some summer reading for you:
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
Dominion, by Matthew Scully
When Elephants Weep, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
Diet For A Small Planet, by Frances Moore Lappe
The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II
Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer
Dead Zone, by Phillip Lymbery
The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan