Food

Rachel Marie Stone 08-14-2013
Hushed speaking illustration, lavitrei/ Shutterstock.com

Hushed speaking illustration, lavitrei/ Shutterstock.com

I am not shy about using the saltshaker, and neither I nor anyone else in my family has any sort of problem with blood pressure. That’s because we mostly don’t eat things that come out of packages or from fast-food places (where someone else takes them out of packages), and the salt that is a problem in the North American diet doesn’t come from the saltshaker but from the extreme levels of sodium in packaged foods.

But you will never hear Michelle Obama say that.

There was a similar unutterability to everything having to do with AIDS back in the day. Even when scientists had a fairly clear understanding of the nature of the threat and how it was spread, most “official” speech tended toward a hedging: “we don’t know what causes it; we don’t want to say what’s causing it …” Even today people don’t get tested because they don’t want to know, even though getting tested obviously doesn’t give you the virus — it merely points out that it is there. It seems to point to so much more, though.

Rev. Jana Norman 07-22-2013
Photo courtesy Marcell Mizik/Shutterstock.com.

Man praying over a white plate while awaiting to be fed. Photo courtesy Marcell Mizik/Shutterstock.com.

Human beings seem to come with certain built-in spiritual inclinations, and gratitude is chief among them.

Parents and teachers think we have to be taught to say thank you, but maybe it just comes naturally. Gratitude is both accessible and enlivening.

Accessible because it’s as easy as paying attention to that which we might otherwise take for granted.

With gratitude, when our lover holds our hand for the umpteenth time it feels like it’s the first time and we’re grateful for them all over again. Or when we sit down to a plate of something humble and home-cooked it suddenly transports us to all those other meals in all those other places where we felt loved, accepted, and welcomed.

Alessandro Speciale 06-05-2013
RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini.

Pope Francis at the Vatican in March.

Pope Francis on Wednesday denounced consumerism and what he called the “culture of waste” of modern economies, especially when it comes to food.

“Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry,” he said during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square.

His words came on the day the United Nations launched an anti-food waste campaign to mark World Environment Day.

Brandon Hook 05-14-2013
Photo Brandon Hook / Sojourners

The crowd at the sweetlife festival waits to hear the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Photo Brandon Hook / Sojourners

Passion and purpose.

Sounds familiar, huh? Those two words are at the heart of activism and social justice. I could have safely assumed that almost every young Christian activist at the Justice Conference in Philadelphia back in February was passionate about a particular purposeful cause. I’m surprised a Christian conference hasn’t already picked up on the whole passion and purpose thing for slogan or tag line.

Christian conferences aside, I never thought those two words would be the foundation of a cutting-edge music and food festival at Merriwewather Post Pavilion, and certainly not one where 18,000 people were jamming to some of their favorite artists and scurrying over to local food trucks for healthy, delicious food in between sets. Heck, I didn’t know there was such a thing as a festival that focuses on both music and food.

Brian E. Konkol 04-29-2013
 Dollar bill and quarters, Shipov Oleg / Shutterstock.com

Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $1.50 per day, Dollar bill and quarters, Shipov Oleg / Shutterstock.com

By definition, an anesthetic is a drug used to relieve pain (analgesia), relax (sedate), induce sleepiness (hypnosis), spark forgetfulness (amnesia), or to make one unconscious for general anesthesia. Anesthetics are generally administered to induce or maintain a state of anesthesia and facilitate a procedure. I believe that anesthetic can be employed as a striking image for particular deficiencies in faith-based responses to extreme poverty. 

As one can cite many examples where faith is proclaimed and practiced solely as an escape from – rather than engagement with – the numerous struggles associated with impoverishment, we recognize that anesthesia is incomplete without corresponding acts of sustainable social surgery.

...

A practical way to serve within the tension of anesthetic and advocate is to experience a small portion of life below the poverty line. The World Bank sets extreme poverty as below $1.50 per day, and I plan to stand in solidarity by attempting to eat on less than $1.50 per day over the course of five days (Monday – Friday).

LaVonne Neff 04-29-2013
'Fat Chance' and 'Salt Sugar Fat'

'Fat Chance' and 'Salt Sugar Fat'

If you eat food, here are two newish books you should know about.

You may already have met Robert H. Lustig, author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease (2012). Lustig is the UCSF professor whose surprisingly riveting 90-minute lecture, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth," has already had nearly 3.5 million hits on YouTube. The thesis of his lecture: it's not dietary fat that's making Americans gain weight, it's sugar. And sugar is doing much worse things than increasing our clothing size. It's setting us up for a whole range of lethal diseases that are almost entirely avoidable.

...

In Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (2013), Moss, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, tells what the food industry has been up to during the last couple of decades. Food executives, Moss says, are nervous: people are figuring out that convenience foods aren't good for them.

Elizabeth Palmberg 10-16-2012
World Food Day illustration, abdulsatarid / Shutterstock.com

World Food Day illustration, abdulsatarid / Shutterstock.com

For World Food Day, here’s a roundup of recent Sojourners magazine articles about food, a subject with tendrils throughout our lives and world—from field to farmworker to plate to body!

Jeremy John 09-27-2012

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
 ~ Arundhati Roy

Vegetables.

Who could have imagined an economy in which gentle vegetables were subversive?

But this is our world. A world where a vegetable, whose growth is imperceptible to the naked eye, can spider a crack into the concrete of our industrial food system.

We find ourselves in a food economy that sickens us. Health is divided along race and class lines: the food economy particularly sickens those whose wages do not allow them to buy the foods that can cure us of the diseases industrial “foods” cause.

Corporations, which do not speak the language of human love and health, wrangle to profit from the stream of ill Americans falling from the industrial foods conveyor belt. But we know that type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and some cancers are fully preventable by replacing part of what we eat with fruits and vegetables.

Why, in a wealthy, fertile country are we wrecking the environment to produce foods that kill us?

Christian Piatt 08-21-2012
Photo: Clipping coupons, Jim Barber  / Shutterstock.com

Photo: Clipping coupons, Jim Barber / Shutterstock.com

I’m not making friends among my family members with this challenge.

Because it was my idea to do this for a week (living on the equivalent budget of food stamps for seven days), everyone ends up coming to me to “check on the rules.” Basically, this means they ask me about ways they might work around the limitations of the challenge, and then get mad at me when I don’t give them a way out.

Yesterday ended up being a mixed bag. My wife, Amy, and I had to go to the other side of town for some errands, and it didn’t occur to either of us that we’d be gone over lunch time. Fortunately, one of the errands was at an Ikea, a giant housewares store that’s known for it’s affordable cafeteria-style meals, so we made it work. But even with their reduced-rate prices, we spent more than $9 for both of us and little Zoe to eat.

“Man,” I said, looking at my empty bowl, previously filled with pasta and Swedish meatballs, “that was way less than we usually spend going out, but it was still almost double what we have in the budget for one meal.”

Robert Gronski 08-01-2012

Vegetables, Konstanttin / Shutterstock.com

Will Congress cut food stamps, conservation, and the farmer safety net—or fail to pass a Farm Bill at all?

Christian Piatt 05-27-2012

I’m coming to terms with the realization that I’m a big, fat fake. But at least I’m in good company.

Amy’s birthday was last Sunday. We had just arrived in Portland, so we went to a fancy-pants restaurant, situated several hundred feet above the skyline, with a view of the entire surrounding city, the Willamette River and Mount Hood. We shared a bottle of wine, enjoyed outstanding service and indulged on gourmet food to celebrate her ever-growing tenure as an occupant of our planet.

The bill for the night was nearly enough to cover groceries for our family for up to two weeks.

We could manage it; we knew it was pricey before we got there. And it was fairly easy to justify too. We were making memories. It was an other step in the courtship, helping us fall in love with our new city. We had worked hard over the past eight years, establishing a church in Colorado, struggling to pay bills at times, and we’re now enjoying some material fruits of our labor.

What bullshit.

Seriously, how does anyone really justify spending that kind of money on one meal? After all, from our vantage point on the 30th floor, I could see scads of people below, standing on street corners, tucked in under sleeping bags and beneath cardboard boxes, walking wearily from one job to the next, hoping to pull together enough to make rent.

the Web Editors 05-15-2012
Image of the geodesic dome rooftop garden via http://www.conceptualdevices.com

Image of the geodesic dome rooftop garden via http://www.conceptualdevices.com

 

According to our friends at Good.is, Buckminster Fuller'sgeodesic dome is making a comeback with urban farmers. 

A new dome-based prototype promises an affordable method of rooftop aquaculture for apartment and commercial buildings—as the website calls it, getting "fish from the sky." The Globe / Hedron bamboo domewould house an aquaponics system—a mini-ecosystem in which plants clean the water where fish swim and fish waste fertilizes the plants—capable of feeding 16 people year-round. The unique structure of the dome, designed by Conceptual Devices, would support the weight of the fish tank, enabling installation on flat roofs without adapting the structure of the building. The design firm is partnering with Zurich-based group UrbanFarmers, which developed the aqauponic technology, and they're currently fundraising on indiegogo to get the project off the ground.

QR Blog Editor 05-09-2012

Over at Think Progress, Scott Keys reports on Rep. Allen West's latest comments:

"West, speaking at the Broward County Lincoln Day Dinner this past Saturday, warned the crowd about the danger of food stamps for American society. “In the last 10 years,” West said, the “food stamp program that has gone from about $20.6 billion to over $75 billion.” The Florida congressmen saw this increase not as a society practicing compassion for its most needy, but as a more nefarious plot. “That’s not how you empower the American people,” West declared. “That’s how you enslave the American people.”

Read the full article here

Danny Duncan Collum 05-01-2012

From Mississippi to Kentucky coal-mining country, churches are taking on the public health crisis of obesity.

Julie Polter 05-01-2012

Books on food and farming.

Ivone Guillen 05-01-2012

When you pick an apple in the store, think of those who held it first. A day in the life of a farm worker.

Jim Rice 05-01-2012

A new definition of malnutrition is emerging, as formerly developing countries are globalized into “fast-food nation” lifestyles.

Yvonne Yen Liu 05-01-2012

Low-wage work and racial inequity are rife in jobs that move food to your table.

LaVonne Neff 04-30-2012

I just discovered I've been duped.

This is painful, because I like to think I know how to read labels. I also like to trust products named Aunt Millie and stores named Whole Foods.

Alas, I forgot one of my basic shopping principles: Never trust food that calls itself "natural."

In label language, natural means nothing at all. Companies who use the term in their marketing are usually trying to hide something. I should have looked more carefully at Aunt Minnie's Hearth Fiber for Life 12 Whole Grains bread.

Here, I'll show you the inset up close. I read it as "100% natural whole grain," never stopping to wonder why the marketers bothered to point out that whole grains are natural (isn't that obvious?). But no. This bread is not 100% whole grain. It is 100% natural, whatever that means, and it contains whole grains. Twelve of them, in fact. But its third listed ingredient, after water and whole grain wheat flour, is unbleached wheat flour.

Brooke Adams 04-27-2012
Warehouse image J.A.Astor/ Shutterstock.

Warehouse image J.A.Astor/ Shutterstock.

SALT LAKE CITY — At the new Utah Bishops' Central Storehouse, pallets loaded with food wait to be ferried to locales near and far, their destinations handwritten in black marker on plastic wrap covers: Lindon, Ely, Mesa, San Diego, St. George.

Storehouse manager Richard Humpherys stops a golf cart next to one steel storage rack, slits open a cardboard box with a pocket knife and pulls out a can of peaches made with fruit grown at a Mormon church-owned orchard and processed at its cannery in Lindon, Utah. The can's label is stamped "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" and "Welfare Services, Salt Lake City, Utah."

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