Spiritual teachers from Jesus to Buddha have called us to care for the poor and the hungry.
Scientists of the International Food Policy Research Institute point out that “malnutrition, linked to extreme climatic events, may be one of the most important consequences of climate change.”
And the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations warns that, “Global warming and the biofuel boom are now threatening to push the number of hungry even higher in the decades to come.”
Food is a spiritual issue, and it is an environmental issue.
As you may know, Interfaith Power & Light is developing a food program that will demonstrate the connections between food production, food consumption, and climate change. We’re talking to the experts, digging deep into the research, and connecting with our colleagues as we carefully develop a program.
And we want to hear from you – use the form below to let us know what you and your congregations are doing and thinking.
In the meantime, to the right are some ways you can already start making connections between faith, food, and a healthy planet.
Host a congregation-wide potluck consisting only of locally grown and organic foods, or organize a visit to a local farmers market with your congregation
Start a garden at your church, synagogue or mosque. Not only will you find yourselves with delicious produce at your fingertips, but it is a great way to educate and involve your community.
Give food to those in need. Many communities have local organizations that gather the produce that remains on farmland after the harvest, or the excess harvests of families with backyard fruit trees. Gleaners of all ages can come together to pick these fruits and vegetables and deliver them to food shelters.
Have your congregation join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. CSAs are organized by local farmers and groups of consumers who agree to support these farmers financially in exchange for a share of their harvest.
Find alternatives to meat. Eating less meat is both healthy, and is also much gentler on the environment. Producing one 6 ounce beef steak requires 16 times more fossil fuels than the production of 1 cup of broccoli, 1 cup of eggplant, 4 ounces of cauliflower, and 8 ounces of rice combined. Additionally, meat production creates about 900 million tons of polluting manure annually.
Look for the USDA Organic label. This ensures that the foods were not produced with pesticides, irradiation, hormones, antibiotics, or bioengineering.
Shop at local farmers markets. Eating fresh locally grown food is energy efficient in a very simple way – less transportation! Also, getting to know who grows your food and reconnecting with the land itself can be an enriching experience.
Forget the frozen dinners and pick up fresh produce and ingredients. Choosing to buy food that has less packaging and is less processed creates less waste, and also allows you to make your food special and unique for you.
Consider the food rituals of your faith community. Design sustainable seders, Easter Suppers, and Iftars during Ramadan.
Explore the traditions regarding food in your faith community. For example, Jews may want to examine Deuteronomist agriculture codes, Muslims may want to find food connections among the Five Pillars of Islam and Christians may want to delve into the feeding of the multitude as a model for food programs
Fasting is a ritual common to many faith traditions. Consider a symbolic or literal period of fasting from certain foods and examine the spiritual connections around the loss
If grace or ritual blessing is part of your faith tradition, consider using a blessing that explicitly traces the path of the food to be consumed
Start dialogues about the connections between food production, food consumption and our duty to responsibly steward the planet
Save the Planet
Engage your congregations, friends and family in actions supporting low-carbon foods
Host educational activities teaching about food issues
Contact your government representatives regarding local, state and national food policy