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Ethical Eating: Food And Environmental Justice


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Ethical Eating: Food And Environmental Justice

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  • 1. UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST Association CONGREGATIONAL STUDY/ACTION ISSUEETHICAL EATINGFOOD AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE 2008-2012 WORSHIP RESOURCE Supplement Updated April, 2010 For further information: UUA Commission on Social Witness, socialwitness@uua.orgUUA Office of Congregational Advocacy and Witness, UUA, 25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108
  • 2. Table of contentsIntroduction ............................................. 3 Communions ................................... 9Acknowledgments ...................................... 3 The Offering...................................10Worship Materials ...................................... 4 Closing Words and Benedictions ...........10 Hymns ................................................ 4 Quotations and Centering Thoughts ...............10 Cultural Sharing and Context................ 4 Sermon Excerpts ......................................11 Readings.............................................. 5 Additional Resources .................................29 Opening Words and Chalice Lightings...... 5 Holidays ..........................................29 Prayers and Spoken Meditations............. 5 Websites ..........................................30 Service Readings and Worship Tips for Service Leaders...............30 Responsive Readings ....................... 7 2
  • 3. IntroductionWhen the 2008 UUA General Assembly selected “Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice” as our Association’sCongregational Study/Action Issue (CSAI) for 2008-2012, they created a delicious opportunity for congregations through-out North America, in their ongoing free and responsible search for truth, and quest to respect the interdependent web ofexistence of which we are all a part.By holding a worship service on one or more of the themes of Ethical Eating, you join with hundreds of other UU congre-gations participating in this CSAI. We hope that these worship services will inspire organized study and action in our con-gregations, and, in turn, that the study and action changes individual lives, local communities, our faith movement and thisplanet.Your worship service will be part a CSAI process whose long range goals may be interpreted as threefold:• On the individual level, the process will provide individual UUs a means to understand the global reach of their per- sonal decisions, and a means to make easy, tasty, affordable, nutritious food choices that fit with their individual ethical and spiritual values and our common principles.• On the congregational level, this CSAI provides faith communities direct means to engage some of the most challeng- ing social issues of our time: hunger and malnutrition, free and fair trade, labor and exploitation, animal rights and hu- man responsibilities, neocolonialism and globalization, environmental degradation and climate change.• On the Associational level, the CSAI process provides Association leaders direction in their efforts to build a more just and equitable society.In this guide, you will find hymns, chalice lightings, readings, and even “sermon starters” to make organizing aworship service on “Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice” easy as pie—or if you prefer, a piece of cake.We invite you to use any of the written materials included here as you like, with proper credit given where credit is due.We thank the many people who have shared their original materials for inclusion here. In this edition of this guide, wehave included new resources and tips for constructing meaningful worship services on the theme of Ethical Eating.For more information on the CSAI and detailed suggestions for your congregation’s involvement, see the Resource Guide forCSAI “Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice” to which this resource guide serves as a supplement. TheResource Guide and more can be found at or AcknowledgementsWorship Resources for Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justiceresults from the combined contributions of scores of lay and ordainedUnitarian Universalists. The Ethical Eating Core Team’s heartfelt gratitudegoes to all who submitted materials; we regret that not all submissionscould be included. Special thanks to Core Team members the Rev. LeeDevoe and Vicki Talbert for their tireless content management work,Peggy Clarke and the Rev. Dr. Michael Tino who managed the April 2010update and redesign, and to the entire Core Team who ultimately pro-duced this resource. Ethical Eating Core Team (current and former members, with organizational affiliations noted) Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh (Chair), Eliza Burns, Peggy Clarke, John Dale (UUUNO), Rev. Lee Devoe (UUFETA), Robette Dias (DRUUMM), Rev. Dr. Paul Johnson (UUA CSW), Rev. Bob Murphy, Rev. Dr. Lucy Hitchcock Seck (UUJEC), Maisie Taibbi, Vicki Talbert (UUME), Rev. Dr. Michael Tino (ARE), and Rev. Nate Walker 3
  • 4. Worship ResourcesHymns and MusicHymns numbered 1-415 are in Singing The Living Tradition; 1000-1074 are in Singing The JourneyCelebrating Earth and Harvest#21 For the Beauty of the Earth#53 I Walk the Unfrequented Road#68 Come, Ye Thankful People Come#69 Give Thanks#70 Heap High the Farmer’s Wintry Hoard#71 In the Spring, with Plow and Harrow#73 Chant for the Seasons#163 For the Earth Forever Turning#175 We Celebrate the Web of Life#203 All Creatures of the Earth and Sky#349 We Gather Together#355 We Lift Our Hearts in Thanks #387 The Earth, Water, Fire, Air Cultural Sharing AND Context #1064 Blue Boat Home A Tip for Effectively Using Multicultural Music #1067 Mother Earth, Beloved Garden #1073 The Earth Is Our MotherThe issue of Ethical Eating connects us to a world commu-nity in which food security and environmental justice areserious issues—and one in which power is not equally Celebrating “The Goal of World Community”shared among cultures and peoples. We encourage the use #134 Our World Is One Worldof multicultural music to highlight this connection, and also #159 This Is My Songthe practice of introducing such music with cultural context #164 The Peace Not Past Our Understandingto honor other cultures and our relationship to them. This #207 Earth Was Given As a Gardenpractice is respectful and deepens our connection to the mu- #220 Bring Out the Festal Breadsic and the worship service. Here’s an example: #276 O Young and Fearless ProphetThula Klizeo was written by Joseph Shabalala, leader of the South #277 When We Wend HomewardAfrican group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. During the era of apart- #298 Wake, Now, My Sensesheid in South Africa, the Zulu people had many cultural practices #305 De Coloresbanned by the government as a way to take away their strength as a #399 Vine and Fig Treepeople. Touring in New York City, Shabalala felt deep homesick- #406 Let Us Break Bread Togetherness, unsure that he would ever see his family and home again. He #407 We’re Gonna Sit at the Welcome Tablewrote this song as a response. Its lyrics mean, “Be still my heart, #1014 Standing On The Side of Loveeven here I am home.” We sing this song understanding our respon- #1016 Profetiza, Pueblo Miosibility to those among us who long for a cultural heritage from #1056 Thula Klizeowhich they have been separated, even as they find a home here.Thula Klizeo is a powerful chant that reminds us of the power and Some congregations may wish to supplementpossibility of world community. hymns with commonly available songs such as:Cultural context for many of the hymns in Singing the Journey • “Food, Glorious Food” by Lionel Bart (from Oliver!)can be found on-line at • “Ain’t You Got a Right? (Tree of Life)”singingjourney/songinformation/93778.shtml. Information by Guy Carawanfor hymns in Singing The Living Tradition is available in the • “Deportees” by Woodie Guthriebook Between the Lines, edited by Jacqui James. • “Garden Song” by David Mallett 4
  • 5. REadingsNumbered readings (416-733) are found in Singing The Living TraditionOpening Readings and Come let us worship together.Chalice Lightings – Margaret Keip#417 For the beauty of the Earth (Barbara J. Pescan) It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a [person] stands up for#430 For now, the winter is past (Song of Solomon 2) an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out#432 If someone would scatter seed on the ground against injustice, he [or she] sends forth a tiny ripple of hope;(Mark) and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can#439 We gather in reverence (Sophia Lyon Fahs) sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and#451 Flame of fire (Leslie Pohl-Kosbau) resistance. – Robert F. Kennedy#453 May the light we now kindle (Passover Haggadah) We light this chalice with hopes for a bright future. May our children, their children, all children Intermingle their laughter through the world. May they be as the rainbow Color and hope for the coming dawn. – Reena Kondo Prayers and Spoken Meditations Farm Worker Prayer of Praise United Farm Workers#459 This is the mission of our faith (William F. Schulz) Bless the hands of the people of the earth, The hands that plant the seed, The hands that bind the harvest,Today, we light our chalice flame for the beauty of this The hands that carry the burden of, and for the wisdom to use its blessings for peace and Soften the hands of the oppressor andjustice. Strengthen the hands of the oppressed.– Anonymous Bless the hands of the workers,We light this chalice for the nourishment of our beings Bless the hands of those in power above themFor the food that feeds our bodies That the measure they deal will be temperedFor the food for thought that feeds our minds With justice and compassion. AmenAnd for the food that feeds our spirits, Prayer of DedicationThe light of our shared time together. by Alan Paton, author of Cry, the Beloved Country.– LoraKim Joyner O God, open my eyes that I may see the needs of others;As surely as we belong to this universe…to this Earth… Open my ears that I may hear their cries;We belong together. Open my heart so that they may not be without succor;We join here to transcend the isolated self, Let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the angerTo reconnect, to come to know ourselves. of the strong; nor afraid to defend the poor because of theTo be at home, here on this Earth, on this planet, anger of the rich.Sustained by the sun, awed by the stars, Show me where love and hope and faith are needed, and useLinked with each other. me to bring them to those places. 5
  • 6. And so open my eyes and my ears that I may this coming day the time to do it in… And, finally, for that sense of kinshipbe able to do some work of peace for thee. Amen. to it all, that singleness, that unity that is the basis of faith….Prayer of the Farm Workers’ Struggle Other Sources for Prayers and Meditations(in English and Spanish) Earth Prayers from Around the World, Elizabeth Roberts andby César E. Chávez, Elias Amidon, eds. (Harper San Francisco, 1991)United Farm Workers Founder (1927-1993) Contains a number of prayers, poems and readings on envi-© César E. Chávez Foundation ronmental themes, many of which are relevant to food, agri-Show me the suffering of the most miserable; so I will know culture, animals and eating. The authors included are as var-my people’s plight. Free me to pray for others; for you are ied as Ho Chi Minh, Hildegard of Bingen, and Williampresent in every person. Help me take responsibility for my Ellery Channing.own life; so that I can be free at last. Grant me courage to A Grateful Heart, M.J. Ryan, ed.(Conari Press, Berkeley,serve others; for in service there is true life. Give me hon- 1994)esty and patience; so that I can work with other workers. Offers mealtime blessings from several cultural and religiousBring forth song and celebration; so that the Spirit will be traditions. Many of these prayers can be used with chalicealive among us. Let the Spirit flourish and grow; so that we lightings or as closing words.never tire of the struggle. Let us remember those who havedied for justice; for they have given us life. Help us to love United Nations Sabbath Serviceeven those who hate us; so we can change the world. Amen. A collection of ecologically- themed prayers found on-lineOración del Campesino en la Lucha atEnséñame el sufrimiento de los mas desafortunados; Asíconoceré el dolor de mi pueblo. Librame a orar por losdemás; Porque estas presente en cada persona. Ayúdame atomar, responsabilidad de mi propia vida; Solo así, seré libreal fin. Concedeme valentía para servir al prójimo; Porque enla entrega hay vida verdadera. Concedeme honradez y pa-ciencia; Para que yo pueda trabajar junto con otros traba-jadores. Alumbranos con el canto y la celebración; Para quelevanten el Espíritu entre nosotros. Que el Espíritu florezcay crezca; Para que no nos cansemos entere la lucha. Nosacordamos de los que han caído por la justicia; Porque anosotros han entregado la vida. Ayúdanos a amar aun a losque nos odian; Así podemos cambiar el mundo.Litany of Gratitudeby Max Coots, Minister Emeritus, UU Church, Canton, NYThe harvest will be an attitude, not a time of year. Andmaybe Ill be wise enough to feel a sort of litany of gratitude:For seeds - that, like memories and minds, keep in them-selves the recollection of what they were and the power tobecome something more than they are… For soil - that ac-cumulation of lives piled up by death that gives new life…For the justice of the earth - that gave me about as manyweeds and wilt and scab and bugs as vegetables but, in theend, gave me enough for what I need… For hands - thosemiracles on the ends of my arms that let me tend my vegeta-bles and pull my weeds, and for mind enough to know thedifference between the two… For calluses - lifes defenseagainst that softness that makes survival difficult… For theability to work and the will to work and the work to do, and 6
  • 7. Service Readings and Responsive lives and it sure isn’t much fun. I now see that to engage in democracy, to jump into this living practice we all need something tangible to act on.… Because food is our most primal need and our common bond to the earth and to each other, it can ground us as we stretch ourselves to draw in all the interlaced threads – so we can weave a whole meaningful picture for ourselves. With food as a starting point, we can choose to meet people and to encounter events so powerful that they can jar us out of our ordinary ways of seeing the world, and open us to new uplifting possibilities. – Frances Moore Lappé, from Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet. New York: Tarcher, 2002.#461 We Must Be Saved (Reinhold Niebuhr) Declaration for Healthy Food and Agriculture#512 We Give Thanks This Day (O. Eugene Pickett) (also available in Spanish)#515 We Lift Up Our Hearts in Thanks We, the undersigned, believe that a healthy food system is (Richard M. Fewkes) necessary to meet the urgent challenges of our time. Behind#558 For Everything a Season (Ecclesiastes 3) us stands a half-century of industrial food production, under- written by cheap fossil fuels, abundant land and water re-#567 To Be of Use (Marge Piercy) sources, and a drive to maximize the global harvest of cheap#568 Connections are Made Slowly (Marge Piercy) calories. Ahead lie rising energy and food costs, a changing climate, declining water supplies, a growing population, and#576 A Litany of Restoration the paradox of widespread hunger and obesity. (Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley) These realities call for a radically different approach to food#588 To Loose the Fetters of Injustice (Isaiah 58) and agriculture. We believe that the food system must be#593 Liberation is Costly (Desmond Tutu) reorganized on a foundation of health: for our communities, for people, for animals, and for the natural world. The qual-#643 Shout for Joy (Psalm 65) ity of food, and not just its quantity, ought to guide our agri-#654 Impassioned Clay (Ralph N. Helverson) culture. The ways we grow, distribute, and prepare food should celebrate our various cultures and our shared human-#656 A Harvest of Gratitude (Percival Chubb) ity, providing not only sustenance, but justice, beauty and#668 Faith Cannot Save (James 2) pleasure.To me democracy is an exciting, living practice, what we do Governments have a duty to protect people from malnutri-every day. To most democracy doesn’t relate to our daily tion, unsafe food, and exploitation, and to protect the land and water on which we depend from degradation. Individu- als, producers, and organizations have a duty to create re- gional systems that can provide healthy food for their com- munities. We all have a duty to respect and honor the labor- ers of the land without whom we could not survive. The changes we call for here have begun, but the time has come to accelerate the transformation of our food and agriculture and make its benefits available to all. 7
  • 8. We believe that the following twelve principles should 10. Requires a national dialog concerning technologies usedframe food and agriculture policy, to ensure that it will con- in production, and allows regions to adopt their own respec-tribute to the health and wealth of the nation and the world. tive guidelines on such matters.A healthy food and agriculture policy: 11. Enforces transparency so that citizens know how their1. Forms the foundation of secure and prosperous socie- food is produced, where it comes from, and what it con-ties, healthy communities, and healthy people. tains.2. Provides access to affordable, nutritious food to every- 12. Promotes economic structures and supports programsone. to nurture the development of just and sustainable regional3. Prevents the exploitation of farmers, workers, and natu- farm and food networks.ral resources; the domination of genomes and markets; and Our pursuit of healthy food and agriculture unites us as peo-the cruel treatment of animals, by any nation, corporation or ple and as communities, across geographic boundaries, andindividual. social and economic lines. We pledge our votes, our pur-4. Upholds the dignity, safety, and quality of life for all chases, our creativity, and our energies to this urgent cause.who work to feed us. Other Sources for Readings5. Commits resources to teach children the skills and Brussat, Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. Spiritual Literacy:knowledge essential to food production, preparation, nutri- Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life. New York: Simon &tion, and enjoyment. Schuster, 1996.6. Protects the finite resources of productive soils, fresh In the section entitled “Leisure”, this volume presents ex- cerpts from many authors which consider our spiritual con-water, and biological diversity. nection to food, and cooking as a spiritual practice.7. Strives to remove fossil fuel from every link in the foodchain and replace it with renewable resources and energy. Union for Reformed Judaism Just Table, Green Table Originates from a biological rather than an industrial The Union for Reformed Judaism has collected many re-framework. sources on Ethical Eating, including a number of Jewish9. Fosters diversity in all its relevant forms: diversity of blessings for food.domestic and wild species; diversity of foods, flavors and Humane Society of the United States, Religious Statementstraditions; diversity of ownership. on Animals 8
  • 9. vice, and shared in this community of love.statements/ The breaking of bread is an ancient ritual of community and mem-The Humane Society has collected statements from different ory celebrated in many different traditions and many different groups, including various sects of Christianity, Judaismand Islam (in addition to Unitarian Universalism). Many of Today, as we approach the American celebration of Thanks-these statements can be used as interesting and relevant giving, we break bread together to celebrate the abundancereadings. of the harvest, the hard work of all who make our lives pos- sible, and the community that gathers here to worship to-Ethical Eating Core Team. Resource Guide for CSAI “Ethical gether.Eating: Food and Environmental Justice.” Boston: UUA, 2008.Many texts appropriate to excerpt as readings for worship These loaves were baked with love—abundant love, love that multi-services are included as introductions to the sections of the plies all that is around it. As you pass the basket to the person nextEthical Eating Resource Guide available online at to you, we invite you to turn to them and say “I offer you the or of community.”issuesprocess/currentissues/ethicaleating/121903.shtml As the bread is passed to you, take a piece from the basketCommunions and eat it, in doing so taking in to you the love of this community.Communion services are celebrated in many UnitarianUniversalist congregations. Though derived from Christian As you eat the bread, bring to mind those things and people forcommunion rituals, which in turn derive from the JewishPassover rituals, Unitarian Universalist communions oftencelebrate our connection to the Earth through food. which you are thankful at this time of year. We offer you the bread of community.A Multicultural Bread CommunionRev. Frances DeverellBread is sometimes referred to as the staff of life. The grain Other Resources for Communion Readingsfrom which it is made comes from the earth, fed by the rain Carl Seaburg, Ed. The Communion Book. UU Ministers Asso-and the sun, just as we also come from the earth, and are fed ciation, 1993. 426 the elements. Every culture, everywhere in the world, An excellent UU book explaining more than sixty meaning-makes its own bread. Will the ushers please pass the bread ful communion rituals in a variety of styles. Whether Easter,brought here today as a gift by many of us. When we bring Thanksgiving, or All Souls; whether Apple, Salt, or Breadbread into community we bring ourselves, our individual and Honey; whether children, youth, or adult, you’ll findheritages, to share with one another. Let us celebrate, with them all here. And yes, that includes coffee. But you’ll havegratitude, the bounty of this earth and the blessings of the to make up your own Fair Trade chocolate communion,community that we create together. May all those who are then share it with us!hungry, eat. May all those who seek community find it. Maythose who seek freedom, or truth, or peace, be satisfied. A Story For All AgesMay the hope of this season lift our spirits. A Tale of Two Heads of Lettuce Rev. Melissa Carvill-ZiemerPartaking in Abundance:A Thanksgiving Communion I have a story for you. It is a tale of two heads of lettuce.(Written as an antiphonal reading for minister and DRE) This one (hold up head of lettuce and walk around the sanc-Rev. Dr. Michael Tino tuary as I speak) was grown in Salinas Valley, CA. It was grown according to conventional, industrial farming meth-Seeds, scattered on fertile ground, are warmed by the sun ods by a multi-national corporation. They used chemicaland fed by the soil. They sprout and grow, producing great fertilizers and pesticides to grow it, low wage migrant work-fields of grain. ers to quickly and efficiently harvest it and get it into trucksThe grain is harvested and ground into flour and shipped across the which drove 2,500 miles from Salinas, CA to Streetsboro,nation. The flour is mixed with yeast and water and salt, and OH. I bought this lettuce in the Giant Eagle market inkneaded, allowed to rise, and baked to make bread. Streetsboro for $2.19 per pound. This lettuce required 4000 calories of fossil fuels to get to us today (return toThe bread is broken in the sacred space of this worship ser- front of sanctuary as I finish speaking). 9
  • 10. The second head of lettuce (repeat directions for walking for $2.39 per pound. This lettuce required fewer than 100around sanctuary) was grown according to sustainable, small calories of fossil fuels to get to us today.scale farming methods in Holmes County, OH by an Amish This morning while you are together in your classes thefarmer who used natural fertilizers and no pesticides to grow adults will remain here in the sanctuary to consider an im-it. The Amish farmer or someone else in his family or com- portant question. How do we decide which head of lettucemunity harvested the lettuce. It was put on a truck and is the better deal?driven 67 miles from Holmes County, OH to CuyahogaFalls, OH. I bought it at Krieger’s market in Cuyahoga Falls The Offering Quotations and Centering ThoughtsNothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true orbeautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothingwe do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love.– Reinhold NiebuhrHumans are part of the web of life. What we do to the planet, what we do to other species, and what we do to other peo-ple, we end up doing to ourselves.– John RobbinsA person is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred, that of plants and animals as that of other men and women, and whenone devotes oneself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.– Albert SchweitzerWe share this planet not only with billions of fellow human beings, but also with uncounted billions upon billions of othercreatures, with lives, wants, enjoyment and suffering as real as our own. Humans have had and used the power to crowdthem out, push them aside, sometimes driving them to extinction, and often, making them into tools for our use, servitorsof our desires, food for our tables, clothes for our backs.– Robert BassMany additional quotes and thoughts can be found in the Resource Guide for CSAI “Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Jus-tice” to which this resource guide serves as a supplement. The Resource Guide and more can be found at 10
  • 11. Sermon Excerpts The following are excerpts from sermons submitted to us. Please feel free to quote them with proper attribution. What My Grandchild Would Want Me to Preach Rev. Scott Tayler Parish Co-Minister, First Unitarian Church of Rochester NY, April 22, 2007It’s really complicated honey. I’m only now understanding it feel it. What we felt was worn out. You’re used to things asmyself. We weren’t really thinking about it like you and they are now. These “little things,” as you call them, justyour friends do. It’s not that we didn’t care about how it didn’t feel little to us. The idea of a smaller house, goingwould impact you; we weren’t really thinking about you at without air conditioning, voluntarily paying $5 for gas orall. Oh that’s sounds terrible, I’ll say. I don’t mean that the finding the $20,000 to install solar panels just seemed tooway it sounds. Again, honey, it’s complicated. It wasn’t per- much and too big to wrap our minds and to-do lists around.sonal; we just didn’t think that far ahead. It was more like a And nobody else was really doing it.blind spot. Our focus was mostly on our daily living, which And more than that: we were hopeful. Ironically that’s afelt hard and overly complicated as it was. We had our part of it too. We weren’t just worn out and overwhelmedhands full just trying to think about and find the time to with our personal lives, we actually believed the tide wasspend with your mama and your aunt and uncle. I’m not changing, that bigger systems would begin to kick in andtrying to defend it. I just don’t want you to think we were stimulate the changes for us.callous or selfish. It’s more like we were overwhelmed. Andwhen you’re overwhelmed it’s hard to have perspective. I She’ll wrinkle her brow at this point showing confusion, somean, a lot was going on. The whole issue of how our mili- I’ll try to explain.tary might was destabilizing the world and also undermining Scientists, you see, weren’t just telling us that we were onour ability to take care of basic services like public schools, the verge of causing irreversible and dangerous climateand health care was just beginning to dawn on us. And I change, they were also telling us we were on the verge of acan’t say I regret focusing on that. Without the anti-war technological break-through that would soon make alterna-effort and the radical changes we accomplished there, things tive energy sources available and affordable... I think thewould be a whole lot worse than they are now. best way to put it is to say that our optimism and our hope,But I don’t get that, Grandpa, she’ll say. You mean you well, it sort of betrayed us. We had hope in technology. Wecould only handle one thing at a time? Didn’t global warm- had hope in politicians. And we had hope in our market sys-ing also feel huge? tem. It really felt like they’d save us without us having to do much. There was a saying back then: “Let go and let God.” INo honey, of course it felt huge, I’ll say. And it’s not that guess we saw science, politics and the market as our gods--we could only handle one thing at a time. That’s not what I more powerful and knowing than us tiny normal folk. So wemean. Again it’s complicated. I guess what I’m saying is that gladly turned the problem over to them and waited for themwe knew it was a huge and scary problem, we just couldn’t to change us. 11
  • 12. Ethical Eating Rev. Mark Hayes Minister, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County, State College PA, November 16, 2008Dorothy Blair, whose area of expertise is nutrition educa- neo-colonialism, and environmental justice. I encourage yoution, shared with me a draft of a paper on sustainable food to look into all of these in coming months, with the help ofsystems from that vantage point. The paper enumerates six the Resource Guide that I have available.goals toward attaining a sustainable food system. They are: Before I close, I’d like to touch on one more area directly1. Eat lower on the food chain (which would have positive related to how we eat: hunger and malnutrition. We wasteimpact on health, land use, water quality, and soil conserva- about 3,044 pounds of food per second in the United States.tion) Each year 27% of US food produced for human consumption is lost at the retail, consumer and food service levels. Glob-2. Eat and act to promote good farming/fishing practices ally, 4.3 pounds of food are produced daily for every(that is, reward those who do it right) woman, man, and child on earth – enough to make all of us3. Reduce food processing, packaging energy (by eating fat. Yet every year, six million children across the globe diefoods as close to their original fresh state as possible) as a result of hunger and malnutrition – one child dying of4. Reduce transportation energy (by eating locally produced starvation or malnutrition every five seconds. Hunger andmeats, milk, grains, fruits, and vegetables whenever possi- malnutrition are responsible for more deaths in the worldble) than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.5. Reduce food waste (by buying sparingly and using left- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes theovers) human right to food, to secure personal health and well- being. The United Nations member states have agreed to6. Eat for social justice (by supporting fair trade initiatives reach eight international “Millennium Goals” by the yearthat promote fair prices and sustainable production prac- 2015, the first of which calls for major reductions in povertytices) and hunger. It has been said that the one major obstacle to… The way we eat also intersects with issues of trade, labor, eradication of hunger is political will. 12
  • 13. Salt of the Earth: Food and Religion Recon- …In today’s world, even the tiniest fellowship, with only a sidered handful of members, has the opportunity to provide “a vision of the world that might be.” Because every congregation, Rev. Robert F. Murphy without exception, has to make decisions about the purchase Minister, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Falmouth and use of food and drink. Some groups insist on the use of MA, December 14, 2008 “Fair Trade” coffee and tea. At church suppers, it’s expected that vegetarian meals will be available. Sunday school teach-...Our new conversation about food and religion can bring ers no longer distribute heaps and heaps of sugar candy…us to a better understanding of what it means to be a Unitar-ian Universalist…. There are rules, in many congregations, that govern the proper disposal of wastes. Bottles and cans are recycled. In...Imagine … A freethinker…says, “I’m uneasy with some churches, the use of disposable cups and plates is dis-this talk about ethical eating. Because I don’t want to be in- couraged, because of environmental concerns…Years ago, avolved with a church that tells me what to eat, and how to woman gave me a sign that’s now in my dining room ateat, and with whom to eat. That’s not what we do in liberal home. The sign says, “My religion has something to do withreligion.” compost.”Friends, I’m very sympathetic. There are, indeed, many reli- ...In the conversation about food and the environment, wegious organizations that have established dietary codes for are introduced, once again, to a world of paradox and trag-religious reasons. Mormons…Seventh Day Adventists… edy. Agribusiness pro-Hindus… Muslims…Orthodox Jews…When I was a boy, duces enormousthe Roman Catholics were told that it was a sin to eat meat wealth, on all of the Imagine … A freethinker…on certain days. My Roman Catholic grandmother, who was inhabited continents, says, “I’m uneasy withvery devout, asked me on many occasions, “What did you but small farmers and this talk about ethicaleat for lunch on Friday?” farmworkers in the eating. Because I don’tWhat do we say to the freethinker, who doesn’t want to talk developing world are want to be involved with aabout food and religion? …Proceed with kindness. Remind often poor. Some peo- church that tells me whathim, first, that things are different here. The Unitarian Uni- ple in the world enjoy to eat, and how to eat, andversalist Association is not a creedal organization…[and pro- many food choices with whom to eat. That’smotes] the full participation in all of its activities without while others are starv- not what we do in liberal“requiring adherence to any particular interpretation of re- ing or dependent on religion.”ligion or to any particular religious belief or creed.” The handouts….words appear in our Association’s Bylaws and Rules. “You are the salt of theOur Association will not establish a dietary code, and, no, earth,” said Jesus of Nazareth. “But if salt loses it flavor, howyou won’t be told to stop eating hamburgers, and you won’t shall it be seasoned?” Even if you’re not a Christian, I en-be told to avoid bacon and pork chops, and, yes, you’ll courage you to keep that thought in mind. Our churches andprobably be offered a cup of coffee during the church coffee fellowships can make a difference in the world. At the veryhour. You won’t be told to sign a temperance pledge. If least, we can bring people together and we can provideyou’re an adult, and if you want to drink alcoholic bever- them with a taste of “the world that might be.” We can teachages at a bar or at a restaurant, you won’t be condemned the fragile art of hospitality. Some of you are on low-sodiumby our Association. If the minister sees a pack of cigarettes in diets, so, maybe, we should go easy on the saltiness, withyour pocket or purse, you won’t be excommunicated. just a little bit of heaven provided at meetinghouse breakfasts and suppers. Not too much, but, please, not too little....Imagine a skeptic…”We’re just a small group of individu-als,” she says, “and we don’t understand all of the food issues Salt is a preservative, and that, too, should be remembered.and, even if we did, we can’t do much of anything as a In these new discussions about religion and the environment,group. Maybe we can swap a few recipes, and…talk about the world needs people of faith who can preserve the oldthe new restaurants in town, but, please, don’t expect us to values that need to be preserved. We can speak for the in-do anything as a religious community. It’s not going to hap- herent worth and dignity of every person, not just the richpen.” and powerful. We can encourage a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and we can celebrate, onceIt’s a teachable moment. Once again, proceed with kind- again, some of the great teachers who have warned usness. against “idolatries of the mind and spirit.” 13
  • 14. Ethical Eating Rev. Christine Brownlie Minister, Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Blacksburg VA, October 5, 2008I’d suggest that we begin this four-year conversation with just a warm-up, a little exercise in becoming more mindfulthe agreement that to respect each person’s right and need about what I eat and the choices that are available to me. Ato make choices that work for them. I might be willing to worthwhile beginning, but I know that there is more that Ilisten to your concerns about the problems of beef produc- can do to address this issue of Ethical Eating.tion in America or the link between child slavery and choco- We need to study the politics and the economics of food solate, but you need to know that my decisions about what I that new solutions to old problems like hunger can be ad-eat belong to me, just as yours belong to you. I like the way dressed in ways that really help. I was surprised to learn thatSid Baumel, the editor of the Web site puts it, the food banks that I’m supporting might not be the best“Ethical eating, like ethical living, is not about absolutes. It’s way to help people who struggle with hunger.about doing the best you’rewilling and able to do — and I’ve always thought of the localnurturing a will to keep doing food bank as a necessary institu-better.” tion, because every community has to find a way to assist those…Some of the things that we who cannot meet their need forcan do are obvious even if they affordable food. I’ve worked inare not easy for all of us. food banks and for meals onAgain, food choices are not wheels…I continue to believejust a matter of nutrition, that this help is important andhealth, or economics. Food necessary. But after reading Clos-also says something about our ing the Food Gap, Resetting thefamily of origin, our lifestyle Table in the Land of Plenty by foodpreferences, the habits and policy activist and journalist Mi-ways of self-care that we’ve chael Winne, I now know that itdeveloped, and how we like to is a band-aid approach to thespend our time. This means issue. Winne…decries the two-that changing our food habits tiered food distribution in ourcan take time and patience. country. He says that there is one for the well-to-do middle...My desire to consume a more ethical diet has led to some class that gives access to better and more costly food throughchanges in my behaviors. This year, I grew a variety of vege- posh grocery stores, organic food markets like Wild Oatstables and put flowers on the back burner. I tried to make and Whole Foods, and high-priced Farmers’ Markets…the most of the garden. What I didn’t eat, I put away in the Winne believes that food banks should become advocates forfreezer. I not only froze beets, I froze the beet greens too. I changes in our national and local food policies. He offers anstarted making yogurt to avoid the plastic containers. I eat example of an effective program of advocacy by a food bankless meat and try to buy organic meats and eggs despite the in Oregon. The Board of this food bank developed an advo-higher cost. I buy milk that is produced by a local dairy. I am cacy committee that took on some hard issues such as thetrying to be more mindful about snacking and to catch my- minimum wage. They encouraged low-income clients toself when I’m tempted to eat because I’m stressed out or take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit. The foodbored. Instead, I take a walk, play with my cats, knit, or bank has taken a strong position in support of expanding thework on a project. Food Stamp program and other state welfare legislation thatThe food needs of the community got my attention as well. I directly affect low-income working families.contributed to a couple of canned-food drives. With the sup- Winne laments that the organic food movement and theport of our food bank volunteers, I worked with our local anti-hunger movement have not joined forces to help de-interfaith food bank to make it easier for working parents to velop innovative programs that would make organic foodsget food by being open one weeknight a week. and local produce more readily available to low-incomeThere’s nothing very startling on my list. And I consider it families through government food programs. 14
  • 15. Giving Up Bananas would reduce our countrys oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels every week…Becoming a less energy- Rev. Peter Friedrichs dependent nation," he writes, "may just need to start with a Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware good breakfast."[ Barbara Kingsolver, et al., Animal, Vegeta- County, Media PA, November 9, 2008 ble, Miracle, p. 5]...There I was, at the "Big Question:" What is my relation- The whole idea behind the concept of "ethical eating" is thatship to the creatures on this earth, and to the earth itself? we think about the food that were putting into our mouths.Are they, is it, here for me, or am I a part of it? How far And by this I dont mean the nutritional value, whether itsdoes the interdependent web extend, and do I really believe good for us or whether its going to go straight from our lipsthat all of us are intimately connected with all of existence? to our hips. Ethical eating is consumption wedded to aware- ness and intention. It is about educating ourselves about theIt has been said that one of the functions of ministry is to true costs of the foods that we buy and consume. Its aboutcomfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable, so I want facing up to the ugly facts of the agri-to be right up front with you. My industrial complex. Its knowing, forgoal in sharing this story with you and Americans consume about 400 gal- example, that while weve increasedtelling you what Im about to tell you lons of oil a year per person for the the average yield of an acre of farm-is to raise questions that will haunt land from 24 bushels of corn in 1930 food they eat…Author and scientistyou too. I want you to be haunted to more than 160 bushels per acrewhile walking the aisles in Acme, in Steven L. Hopp writes sarcastically today, to achieve this astonishing im-Genuardis, in Pathmark and even that "a quick way to improve food- provement we apply about 1.5 billionTrader Joes. To be haunted as you related fuel economy would be to buy pounds of nitrogen to the soil eachunload your groceries from those a quart of motor oil and drink it." year in the form of fertilizers. Andplastic bags that seem to reproduce He then goes on to point out that, if that about half of that nitrogen islike rabbits beneath your kitchen sink. taken up into the atmosphere and fallsTo be haunted as you serve your every American family were to eat as acid rain or stays up there as green-Thanksgiving dinner to your family, just one meal each week that was house gases, or it washes into ourin that Norman Rockwell moment as composed of locally and organically watersheds, causing massive algaethe browned bird is placed before raised foods, "we would reduce our blooms that choke off all otherapproving eyes and watering mouths. countrys oil consumption by over 1.1 aquatic life.[ Amy Hassinger, "EthicalI have here before me a bowl of fruit. million barrels every week….” Eating," UU World, Spring 2007,Bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, p.30.]even an avocado. … Delicious and nutritious fruit. Good …As Unitarian Universalists we proclaim to affirm and sup-and good for you. So, lets see, these bananas are from Ecua- port respect for the interdependent web of all existence ofdor. The apple was grown in Washington State and the which we are a part. What does that mean to us? How fargrapes come from California. These particular tomatoes does it extend? And what does it require of us? The mostcome from Mexico, and theyre still attached to the vine so recent proposed revisions to our principles elaborate on theyou know theyre "vine ripe." The avocado was grown down Seventh Principle thusly:in Chile, and these particular oranges come all the way fromSouth Africa. All told, this bowl of fruit has traveled a dis- Inspired by the beauty and holiness of the Earth, we becometance of more than 18,000 miles to be with us here today. more willing to relinquish material desires. We recognizeDefinitely our most far-flung guests in the service! the need for sacrifice as we build a world that is both just and sustainable. We are called to be good stewards, restor-Its not news to tell you that bananas arent grown in the ing the Earth and protecting all beings.backyards of Media or on farms in Lancaster County…Americans consume about 400 gallons of oil a year per per- In the choices we make about the foods we eat, what does itson for the food they eat…Author and scientist Steven L. mean to be good stewards who work to restore the EarthHopp writes sarcastically that "a quick way to improve food- and to protect all beings? What does it mean to us when werelated fuel economy would be to buy a quart of motor oil proclaim the earth to be "holy?" These principles point usand drink it." He then goes on to point out that, if every toward questions of ultimate reality and meaning, pro-American family were to eat just one meal each week that foundly religious questions like "Who or what made us?"was composed of locally and organically raised foods, "we "Why are we here?" and "Who is our neighbor, our brother or sister?" 15
  • 16. You Are What You Eat Rev. Dr. Michael Tino Minister, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Westchester, Mount Kisco NY, March 2, 2008...Our spiritual connection to the food we eat has...been ...The perils of agribusiness for our connection to the Earthharmed by a modern culture in which over-processed foods through food hardly end with vegetables—I just figured I’dare so ubiquitous that we have ceased to think about foods start there so that the vegetarians among us didn’t get smugin their whole forms any more. when I brought up the horrible world of meat processing....Michael Pollan writes, “try this: Don’t eat anything your A search of the Times’ website for “beef recall” turns up 570great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” articles. Five hundred and seventy. I learned this when IWhat he means to steer us away from are heavily-processed was looking for information on the latest beef recall—anfoods, foods that make health claims based on one or an- order issued two weeks ago that recalled some 143 millionother nutrient they contain, foods with unpronounceable pounds of processed beef that made its way through a plantchemical ingredients, and, high-fructose corn syrup. Don’t in California.even get me started on high-fructose corn syrup. The beef was recalled after an undercover investigation by...Going through the supermarket, it’s not easy advice to the Humane Society documented workers using such tech-follow. I believe this is because we no longer have a con- niques as picking up sick cows with forklifts in order to pre-nection to the food we eat: Meat comes not from animals tend they could walk…. (Andrew Martin, “Largest Recallwhose treatment might matter to us, but from little Styro- of Ground Beef is Ordered,” New York Times, 2/18/08)foam trays with plastic wrap. Carrots are not long, pointed Why is our food supply riddled with meat from cows sothings that come from the ground—they are uniformly- sick they cannot even walk? Why have enormous corporatecarved two-inch-long nuggets that come in a bag. Coffee hog farms become reservoirs for antibiotic-resistant bacte-comes from a round red can, not from bushes growing on ria even as seventy percent of the antibiotics used in thishillsides that need to be hand-picked. country are fed to livestock?Our modern society has many ways of removing us from Why are Australian honeybees, perhaps carrying foreignour connection to food.... bee viruses (and no, I am not kidding) shipped to California ...To be honest, it doesn’t bother me if a company wants every spring to pollinate almond orchards, and thento splice a gene for beta carotene production into a rice shipped home once that job is done?crop, or if molecular biologists find ways to do things that It is because our system of factory farming has become un-used to be done with careful cross-pollination. To be hon- sustainable, and we, far removed from any connection withest with you, I wouldn’t even mind if scientists could figure our food, fail to notice….out how to put pig genes into plants so that my collardgreens don’t need fatback to taste yummy. What we eat and why are profoundly moral, ethical and spiritual questions. You are, after all, what you eat.It bothers me, however, when the genes that are being putinto plants that cause those plants to secrete pesti-cides—creating plants that could wind up killingmonarch butterflies or ladybugs or honeybees.It bothers me when the genetic modifications pro-duce sterile plants just so that farmers can’t saveseeds from one year to the next—forcing an ongoingdependence on newly-ordered seeds, and fatteningthe wallets of giant agribusiness companies.It bothers me when companies are producing geneti-cally-modified crops that make our farmers depend-ent upon chemical herbicides to grow their crops…. 16
  • 17. Eating to Transform Lives and Care for the World by Rev. Duane H. Fickeisen Minister, Unitarian Universalists of the Cumberland Valley, Boiling Springs PA, February 3, 2008.…What you choose to eat is important to both parts of how that transport and preserve more of the local farms that giveyou live out the mission of our congregation — transform- our valley much of its your life and caring for the earth. ...How many of you It might be a stretch for most of us to become locavores,have heard that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Ap- eating only (or almost only) foods that were grown in Cen-ples (and other fresh fruits) are healthy foods, and eating tral Pennsylvania. But it’s not impossible to create a bal-them every day can indeed help you get and stay healthy. anced and interesting diet from locally produced foods. LastWhen many people had apple trees in their backyards, there month — in the middle of winter — Amy Farrell and Johnwere many, many different local varieties of apples. Now Bloom hosted a dinner of almost exclusively Central Penn-most of the apples you find in the stores are one of about half sylvania foods…. Amy shared their menu with me, featuringa dozen commercial varieties, and most of them are Red cheeses, fresh vegetables, chicken and eggs, even cornbreadDelicious. It’s hard to imagine a less satisfying apple than the made with locally grown and ground cornmeal and flour,Red Delicious — it looks pretty, it’s nearly always uni- and sweet potato pie, along with local wines, beers, sodas,formly bright red, and it has a pleasing shape. But they are cider, and water.almost always mushy and bland with tough skin that’s often ….Recognize food as more than a source of nutrition. It isbitter. part of many relationships — with your companions (by theBut not only has the apple become much less than delicious, way, that word means those with whom you share bread),it has also become less nutritious. You’ll have to eat three with the growers, and with the planet, for example. It canapples today to get the same amount of iron that was in one also be a source of pleasure, a feast for all the senses, and atypical apple grown in 1940… reason to sit down with others in a shared meal. For centu- ries shared food has been a strong symbolic way to celebrateWith the focus on processed foods, the cost of sweeteners community….and fats has gone down 20% since 1980 while the cost offresh fruits and vegetables has gone up 40%. We spend Making good choices about what and how we eat matters. Itabout half as much of our income on food as we did in 1960, matters to our bodies and to the planet. And like many ofbut we’re spending three times as much of our income on the choices we face — what’s good for us is often what’shealth care. There just might be a link! good for the Earth. By choosing to eat more locally pro- duced foods and more whole foods, we’re also choosing toWe’re eating a lot more processed foods with those cheapadded sweeteners and fats and a do a little less damage to the Earth by our living here.lot less fresh whole foods. That hasthe hidden expense of causing usto consume too many calories andget too little nutrition.We’re eating foods that have trav-eled a long way. The trucking in-dustry is fond of saying that if youbought it, it came by truck, andthat’s becoming ever so true ofmost supermarket foods. All thathauling is hard on the environ-ment. It contributes to the green-house gasses and it puts more fineparticulate matter into our air,which is already unhealthy.By eating locally grown foods,we’ll reduce the need for some of 17
  • 18. Priceless! he does I am expanding the circle of moral and spiritual awareness by asking him about it. The final layer of the by Rev. Hilary Landau Krivchenia transaction may take place out of my sight – he may choose Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Lafayette, IN to offer fair trade coffee – he may choose not to do that for October 3, 2004 years or ever. The eventual ripples of the transaction happen out of my sight – and perhaps, even, after my lifetime. But…Wealth, bounty, scarcity, money, are complex – layered they exist whether I see them or not.with meaning. We use money all the time, frequently worryover it, try to manage it – but to really think about it is …Nilton Bonder says – “the world is, for conscientious hu-pretty daunting. Money is a tool in a world based upon ex- man beings, a world of ever more intricate systems of liveli-change…. It can’t be avoided. At one time people ex- hood – our family feeling is larger, wider, and our percep-changed goods, services, labor, poultry – but today we use tion of hospitality is sharper.” Hospitality – as though we allmoney in our transactions. As in any event in the world we share one home and make our stay in that home sweeter,can look at our transactions on the surface or we can see be- more wonderful, if we live in hospitality toward one an-yond the surface to the deeper layers – where meaning other. I feel a strong sense of hospitality when our share oflives…. the organic farm co-op comes in each week. I feel pleasure that the land is being loved and that small farmers are mak-…Seldom do we – especially in this powerful nation – have ing a living. The circles of hospitality are very wide – as foodtransactions which begin and end between two people…. comes to me and I’m nourished both by the food and theNilton Bonder, in his book The Kaballah of Money describes interactions with the other co-op members…. Ultimately, Ifour layers of meaning – I’m taking liberties because theo- am investing in the well-being of my family, the farmer, thelogically Bonder and I are on different pages – but overall his other people in the co-op, and the future of the earth andbook echoed my own reflections about the nature of wealth. that is priceless in the long run – the layer of transaction which is out of my sight. We’re making our home more hos-On the material level our transactions are this for that – four pitable.dollars and a molto vente caffe latte. On the emotional levelthe molto vente caffe latte may bring us a moments warmth, …The Rabbis call this yishuv olam – settling the world. It’senergy, and some pleasure. If I buy from a small business- acting and living justly so that the household account of theman it will contribute directly to his financial well-being. world is settled…It means being …willing to see beyondHere the layers get wider – his well-being is involved in my the superficial level of money to the deeper layers where thechoice to buy my coffee there and world is balanced or out of balance.not at a mega chain – and that will It means knowing ourselves welltouches the world on a spiritual enough to know what it is we reallylevel. That means that I choose to want – or what’s needed to makemake my four dollars mean more the world a better place.than it will mean at a huge chain that To settle the world, to make of thewhere my four dollars will be four world a hospitable place withof millions. The good will that I of- enough for everyone – this requiresfer along with my money may go a sense of our relationship with oneunspoken – but it is experienced by another and the rearrangement ofthe businessman who knows exactly our desires into something that con-what he is up against. I have in- nects each person back to the com-cluded a moral perspective in my mon wealth. So that each personchoice of where to spend my four sees themselves as in partnershipdollars. Let’s say that I ask the with the world.owner about fairly traded coffee andask if he might be willing to sell So much of what we desire – whatsome. I offer that I would be willing we really hunger for – is pay more to benefit more people Still we set the conditions for thoseand to buy my bulk coffee from things by settling the world – byhim. We commiserate over the risks making the world more fair – moreof small businesses. No matter what just. Not simply in our own corner but for all creatures... 18
  • 19. A Crowd At The Table: A Thanksgiving Sermon Rev. Lilli Nye Minister, Theodore Parker Church (Unitarian Universalist), West Roxbury MA, Nov. 23, 2003I [do not] mean to present myself as cluding some prepared foods thatsome kind of bodhisattva of compas- come in bottles or cans or boxes.sion. However, in my better mo- Imagine all of the hands that havements—at least in my more con- participated in bringing to food toscious moments—while I’m eating, I the table for this one meal:do try to imagine the lives and even Who are the faceless hundreds whothe deaths of the creatures who nour- planted and harvested, who cleanedish me. and packaged and canned, whoI try to think of the freedom and ex- shipped and stocked, who perhapshilaration of the wild Atlantic salmon combined and repackaged, andleaping up a frigid mountain stream. shipped a second or third time, thenI try to imagine its distress as it is stocked the supermarket, ran thepulled from the water and slowly cash register, and bagged our grocer-suffocates in the air. I try to imagine ies? If we also imagine the extendedthe big soft eyes of the dairy cow network of relationships that sustainhooked up to the milking machine the farming, factory, and freight in-and wonder if her udders are sore or dustries, that web of connectionsif her legs ache as they support her reaches out indefinitely in our globalenormous body on the cement floor economy. So many hands, so manyall day. I try to imagine the bright faces, so many stories, now con-red-gold eye of the hen who pro- nected to your own because you de-duced the beautiful brown eggs I’m cided to use raisins, or bananas, orbreaking into my cast iron pan, and remember that her lay- salmon, a European cheese, or coffee or soy sauce (although,ing days will be numbered. I hope to God, not in the same dish!).Such thoughts may seem perverse, but simply remembering Consider the migrant workers who harvest so many of ourthese beings seems to be one of the few ways that I can ex- table fruits and vegetables. Their labor is indispensable topress my indebtedness to them. Wendell Berry mentions the farming industry, yet they are some of poorest, mostthat the thought of the calf contentedly grazing in the good powerless, and most exploited people living within the bor-pasture flavors the steak, that such knowledge calms, and ders of our nation. That they are often denied fair compen-relieves, and the frees the eater. sation for their work is a factor behind the moderate pricesBut knowledge of the factory farm also flavors the meat, in a we enjoy.different way. Imagining the lives of the animals steers me Imagine all those faces, those hand, those stories. When weaway from meat and eggs produced in the cruel and gro- eat mushrooms, or apples, grapes or tomatoes, we are, in atesque conditions that are typical of industrial livestock sense, ingesting their labor, their life, their deferred dreamsfarming. The thought of the animals’ suffering curbs my ap- and lack of choice… We cannot escape our interdepend-petite. It guides me, according to my conscience and finan- ence….cial capacity, to spend the extra money it costs to support Yet, these truths need not ruin our dinner. They need nothumane farming practices. bring gloom to our Thanksgiving table. Part of being spiritu-But since I cannot always be the purist I might like to be, I ally open is simply understanding that our lives, our blood,try to integrate even the awareness of suffering into my eat- our beating hearts, live because we are sustained by othering meditation. It is part of the energy that I am ingesting, lives. The great life force flows without interruption throughand I feel some responsibility to recognize it. everything. Being conscious of these realities deepens our thanksgiving…would that we could live without taking or...Let us imagine that we are going to eat something that using life, but we cannot. Therefore let our eating be an actwe’ve prepared at home using a number of ingredients, in- of worship. Let our table stand like an altar. 19
  • 20. Doing Food Justice won’t even come to a service of this kind. Giving up on learning and growing in compassion is a religious concern. It Rev. LoraKim Joyner, D.V.M. means we live in denial which disconnects us from the abun- Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, FL dance of being in honest, open, caring and knowing relation- December 3, 2006 ship with the web of life. This leads to despair, unhappiness, depression, tension and fear. As a religious people, as Uni-A meat eater comes up to a vegan: “Did you hear about the tarian Universalists, what can we do? . . .We need an ener-new study saying vegans are more likely to go blind? I guess gizing sense of interconnection. To feel connected, we canit’s because you don’t get the proper nutrition.” The vegan think of all beings as guests at our table . . .replied, “Nah, it’s just from reading all of those tiny ingredi-ent lists.” ....Ask the underpaid immigrants who worked in the fields or in the farms or slaughter houses how their lives are.Vegans (vegetarians who don’t consume any animal prod- Maybe you’d change your fooducts, such as milk, cheese and eggs), choices, maybe not. But your lifearen’t the only ones watching care- It is so difficult to eat justly that most would be more whole knowing howfully what they are consuming. The of us, myself included, tend to give up, your food got to your table.amount of choice before the modern shut down, quit learning, refuse toomnivore is bewildering. We’re not talk to others about diet choices and Let’s mosey on to a more informallike Koala bears who only eat euca- dining setting—perhaps a barn or won’t even come to a service of thislyptus leaves. Omnivores always picnic. Now imagine that the guest at kind. Giving up on learning and your table is another species thathave had to balance trying new foods growing in compassion is a religiousand loving food with the potential helped bring you food. Ask how her concern. It means we live in denialthat they could hurt you. These days which disconnects us from the abun- life is. The cow’s answer mu is quitewith agribusiness, globalization, sci- instructive. In Buddhism it means that dance of being in honest, open, caringence and socioeconomic analysis, we and knowing relationship with the we are living under incorrect assump-know that the food we eat can hurt tions by thinking our lives are sepa- web of life. This leads to despair, un-others. rate from any being, human or non-. happiness, depression, tension and If you don’t understand animal-speak,Especially in the U.S. under the bar- fear. research how that animal lived andrage of food fads and choices, our died before parts of it came to beanxiety builds with every passing your dinner. Michael Pollan in the Omnivore’s Dilemmayear. There are so many kinds of food we can buy: Biore- suggests that all slaughterhouses and factory farms be builtgional food, Local Food, Seasonal Food, Slow Food, Green with glass walls. Seeing clearly what goes on we’d all use aFood (Green Cuisine), Humane Food, Fair trade Food, lot less animal products and treat animals more humanelySmithsonian Bird Friendly Food, Health Food, Sustainable while they, Good Food, Organic Food, Macrobiotic Food, NonGenetically-modified Food, Raw Food. ...I don’t object to death. I object to how these animals live. They suffer greatly. We save a little money per meal whileHow do we achieve the right diet that is just for all beings the agribusinesses pocket millions.and the earth? It seems impossible, and it may be. For in-stance, let’s say you are vegetarian or vegan. Even though ...Half of the dogs in the U.S. will receive a Christmas pre-more fish are off the hook, you still aren’t. Soy comes from sent. Pigs, as intelligent as dogs, as able to suffer as dogs, asmonoculture, a form of intense agribusiness that uses pesti- socially complex as dogs, become Christmas hams. More tocides, reduces biodiversity, causes great pollution and moves the point, during their lives, pigs are treated as unfeelingpeople off land as agribusiness moves in. One billion folks machines. (Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, p. 306)are without adequate food because monocultures rob them If you haven’t already, have a pig as a guest at your table.of livelihood. Maybe you’d make some changes. The important thing is to be in touch with the worth and dignity of every being.OK, let’s say you go organic. Organic farming is harderwork than regular farming, is being done intensively like soy ...Gratitude is so easy to forget. If we could just rememberin some areas, and the people often earn nonliving wages. that we are part of the web of life and are therefore never alone, never without the earth’s abundance, then maybe…So what’s a person to do? It is so difficult to eat justly that we’d have more energy and joyfulness to face life’s difficul-most of us, myself included, tend to give up, shut down, ties.quit learning, refuse to talk to others about diet choices and 20
  • 21. Food for Thought: UU Values and Sustainable Food Vicky Talbert Bradford Community Church Unitarian Universalist, Kenosha WI, June 22, 2007I expect that some of you can remember back to the 50’s best food choices to protect our environment? Are theand 60’s when, once a week, your mother would don her farm workers paid a fair wage? What are their living con-shirtwaist, climb into the family car, and make her way to ditions? How are the animals involved treated? In whatthe A&P. How did she choose her groceries then? In our conditions are they raised and do they suffer? How does afamily, in New England and a long way from the fertile, meat-based diet compare with one that is plant- based...?productive valleys of California, proximity was a huge fac-... Is water being diverted from local usage to irrigatetor and choices were limited. I don’t believe I had an avo-crops to feed food animals? If the food was grown in an-cado until I was 20 and certainly not a mango. Cost other country, were local people displaced from theircounted when our parents made out the grocery list, as land? How have their lives and culture been disrupted sodid cultural and family habits and, perhaps religious prac-that food could be raised to feed us? If we have an ethicaltices. Some parents were ahead of their time, so nutrition obligation to reduce emissions that contribute to climatemay have been in the equation, too. change, is locally produced food better, is organic? WhatHow things have changed! Today, it’s not just that food is about fair trade and workers’ rights? What are the justiceabundant. We can get almost any food, from almost any- issues related to corporate agriculture’s use of the land ofwhere, in any season. We have a cornucopia of choices. It indigenous peoples? And the biggest question – how willtruly seems a grocery shopper’s paradise, the land of we feed the world if we continue our unsustainable eatingplenty. patterns?But at what cost? People are beginning to recognize that Choosing our food may not be so easy – if we want to livethe true cost of food is far greater than what we pay at in right relationship with Earth and all its inhabitants. Thecheck out. For many of us, what and how we eat is part of grocery store may not be that glorious paradise after all.our spiritual practice, a moral or religious act…. So … how do we choose? … Of course!! … Our princi-Throughout developed countries, people want to know ples will guide us.... where their ...Much attention has been given to our 7th principle. We food comes know that industrialized agriculture as it now exists flies in from and the face of this principle and threatens the interdependent how it is pro- web. It causes massive pollution, reduces biodiversity, and duced. Is the destroys land integrity at an alarming rate food grown with pesti- But, let’s not overlook how our other principles fit into cides or her- the equation of ethical compassionate and sustainable bicides? What food choices. When we consider the inherent worth and about the dignity of every person, how can we ignore the family in polluting a poor village in Asia whose culture has been degraded runoff from with their land when it was taken over by a multinational fertilizer and corporation to produce wheat for snacks for us? What manure? about the migrant workers here in our own country who What is the are exposed regularly to dangerous pesticides and then contribution can’t get decent medical care? Don’t these people have of corporate worth and dignity equal to ours? Recent research con- agriculture to firms what many people know instinctively - that animals the degrada- think, feel, and have complex social relationships - and tion of our suggests that the worth and dignity of those beings is as planet and inherent as they are for human beings. Should we not what are the extend this principle to them?... 21
  • 22. Eating Ethically Rev. Alison Wohler Minister, Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst MA, April 22, 2007...It matters because how we eat is not an isolated issue. While we would like to think, and often do think, with our inde-pendent human personalities, that what we eat is our own business, the truth is that what I eat, what you eat, has furtherreaching consequences than merely staying alive and being healthy. In this world of infinite connections, our interdepend-ent web, there is no such thing as an isolated event, and because of that fact it matters what we do. It matters what we eat.It matters where our food comes from. It matters how it’s grown. It matters how an animal is slaughtered. It matters thatthe earth is heating up and that eating food that has been transported long distances (the average is said to be 1500 miles) iscontributing to the greenhouse effect because of carbon dioxide emissions. It matters that raising livestock produces copi-ous amounts of methane, another carbon compound, which is twenty-three times more harmful to the atmosphere thancarbon dioxide. (The Cheeseburger Footprint, <>) It matters ifthe food we are eating was harvested by people being paid less than a living wage. Nothing is an isolated act.But, it also matters that eating is one of the most intimate and pleasurable of human experiences. The food we eat becomesa living part of us. We are literally what we eat. It is ethically important to feed ourselves and our loved ones food thatmakes us healthy and happy. Yes, I think enjoying our eating matters, too. Why would our taste buds have survived evolu-tion if tasting and enjoying our food were not beneficial to our survival in some way? And, it matters very much that eatingwith friends is fun and a way to get to know each other better. These kinds of things may all play into our decisions abouthow, when and what we eat.The cost of buying food involves more than dollars and cents. [And] the benefits of food involve more than protein and car-bohydrates.... 22
  • 23. Ethical Eating Meri Gibb Open Circle Unitarian Universalist, Boulder CO, November 9, 2008...For the affluent, sitting down to a dinner derived from less, turning the heat down, using less hot water and insulat-perhaps twenty-five different food sources is taken for ing your house. Did you know that by making choices aboutgranted…. Filling the plate and eating and drinking to full- what you eat, you can change the course of the environ-ness is a social event, an opportunity to admire the art be- mental and human degradation that we are now experienc-fore you, to pay your respects by consuming it. ing?For those suffering from malnutrition, if they are lucky, I’ll make a few suggestions….powdered milk and a cup of cereal, provided by an interna- Buy organic and natural. I’ve heard folks claim that becausetional aid organization, may be all they can look forward to, organic products cost more, buying organic is unaffordablemeal after meal. And perhaps, clean water to drink with it. and elitist. I’ve read articles in which the writer claims thatIn the US, we waste 3,044 pounds of food per second. Per organic foods don’t taste any better than commerciallysecond! All the imperfect food that is culled from the fields grown food and you should save your money. I believe that,and the food that is left in the fields after mechanical harvest, as people who care about the world outside of ourselves,the blemished and bruised food that comes to the grocery when we look at the toll that commercially grown foodsstore, the food that doesn’t get purchased and begins to de- take on the environment and the health of the people whocay on the shelves. The edible by-products of the production do the work in the fields, we can’t afford not to buy organicof foods are discarded. Food that is over produced and can- foods...not be sold is discarded. The food on our plates that doesn’t Eat less meat. If you are worried about getting enough pro-get eaten that goes down the disposal or to the landfill. If we tein in your diet, educate yourself about how to combinebelieve that providing adequate food is a human rights issue, grains and legumes and dairy products to create completethen we must understand the imbalances of food delivery, proteins. Use meat as flavoring rather than as the main dish.acquisition, and consumption and the damage that is done to Seek out meat that has been grass fed and finished and hu-all living things by the industrialized growing and transport- manely raised…You could even go vegan if you learn to eating of food and the raising of farm animals in unnatural cir- the proper foods needed for a balanced diet.cumstances. Become a food activist. Educate yourself about food produc-…It may surprise you that it is estimated up to 37% of tion and distribution. Talk to your government representa-greenhouse gases are produced in the production of food…If tives when farm bills and aid bills are being considered. Tellwe believe that we live in the interconnected web, that life is them to think democratically and environmentally whenof value, that our environment is worth saving, that the dis- considering food subsidies and aid to foreign countries.appearance of species in record numbers is unacceptable,then we have choices to make. You hear a lot about driving ...Consider packaging when you have the choice to purchase food or drinks packed in plastic or not... Educate yourself by reading food labels, choose nutritious foods over over-processed, over-sweetened and over-salted foods. They are healthier for you and, from a public health standpoint, reduce the pressure on our health care system to treat illnesses that could be avoided by choosing wisely. … Compost your food waste. Rotting food waste in landfills creates methane – a greenhouse gas 22 times more potent than carbon emissions… Eating ethically and sustainably sends a message to food growers and producers. You vote with your bucks. Not too long ago, you couldn’t find organic or sustainably-raised ani- mal foods in the marketplace. Now, [many supermarkets have] choices available…. 23
  • 24. Mind the Mules: Theology and Justice in the Food Chain Rev. Dr. David Breeden First Unitarian Church of Alton, IL, March 30, 2008...I grew up on my family farm in the southern part of Illi- millions of migrant workers to this day, despite the best ef-nois.... forts of people like Caesar Chavez.There was nothing about it that was a golden age. And I’m Second, the compromise insured that farm workers andNOT nostalgic about the good old days. small farmers would have no voice in government policy concerning agriculture. The consequences of THAT killedI don’t like carrying water from the well out back. the family farm, damaged the environment, and is now kill-I don’t like going to an outhouse at 4am in the snow. ing the US population with bad food laced with corn deriva-I don’t like the wasps that always seem to build nests in the tives….outhouse in summer. ...I vividly remember the last time I saw my grandfatherI don’t like living in close proximity to snakes. alive. He was sitting on his front porch, an old scraggly chicken resting between his feet. My grandfather was rub-I don’t like the suffering of animals. (Those of you who grew bing the chicken’s head with his cane. He respected livingup on farms know that it’s the kid’s job to kill the chickens, things—because they kept him and his family alive.... Ibecause it takes some energy learned that when I had to doto catch ‘em.) I really don’t harm or kill I should do itlike killing chickens. Or hogs without hesitation becauseor cows. I don’t even like that is the kindest, quickesthunting. I hate the smell of way. I learned to see the in-hot blood. As far as farming terdependent web and to liveis concerned I—as my grand- in it as lightly as I could....mother would say—turnedup in the wrong turnip patch. ...When it comes to agricul- ture, no magic occurs: every-...The sad fact is that, for the thing we eat is part of the soilmost part, our society does and the sun. There is no freenot know where its food lunch. When we eat, we con-comes from; nor do we know sume life, and the life wethe true cost of that food.... consume becomes part of us. ...Fact is the way we produce our food has caused irreversi- We consume plants and animals...and the labor of the hu-ble environmental damage; has created an insupportable man beings who raised the plants and animals, processed thefood chain; and has destroyed a way of life. doesn’t plants and animals, hauled the plants and animals, and servedhave to be that way.... Let’s look at just once cause of this the plants and animals to us.problem. There’s nothing magic about our food, no matter the won-The National Labor Relations Act of 1935, the law that pro- ders of the advertising or the packaging. Though economiesvided most US workers with the right to collective bargain- of scale and the welter of advertising obscure the reality,ing, excluded domestic workers and agricultural workers, eating is a sacrificial act; a holy act: for us to eat, even whenand by implication small farmers. This was an instance of we are vegetarian, living things suffer and die.realpolitik for the Roosevelt administration, since it needed Next time you sit down for a meal, consider praying an oldto keep southern, plantation-owning Democrats in the coali- Buddhist prayer that my teacher, the poet Allen Ginsberg,tion. But that compromise had a couple of disastrous conse- taught me:quences. We take this foodFirst, since in the 1930s a sizable number of African Ameri- The labor of many people,cans were domestic servants, agricultural laborers, or small The suffering of many forms of, the compromise postponed the civil rights move- We wish to be worthy....ment for another generation. It also insured the suffering of 24
  • 25. Finding Meaning In The Mundane Brian Ferguson First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco CA, July 3, 2005...For many of us this Sunday service is where we come to- to many of our simplest actions.gether to examine what gives our lives worth and to make A friend of mine once said “I like paying my taxes because Isense of the seemingly incomprehensible events around us. feel I’m contributing to a civilized society.” Now I don’tOur time in this sanctuary is not mundane, it is a special think he represents a typical view but I really like the idea.time where we wrestle with many of the fundamental ques- Can you imagine if every time we bought something we felttions about life. we were contributing to a better world?Now the mundane aspects of our lives are the making of This socially responsible buying is only possible because webreakfasts which we ate this morning, how we traveled here, have choices in our product decisions. There are wonderfuland the writing of checks for the bills we’ll pay tonight. Our organizations such as COOP America and San Francisco-lives are made up of these ordinary but necessary tasks of based Global Exchange who provides plenty of informationliving but I believe with a deeper understanding we can find about socially responsible products. The Interfaith Center ongreater meaning from these seemingly unfulfilling tasks. As Corporate Responsibility is an organization of many religiousStephen said earlier we must create the value that gives groups, including our own, and is one of the most importantmeaning to our lives. resources for activism today. It is involved on such issues asFor me, religion is about connectedness, about our relation- access to health care, opposing sweat-shops, human rights,ships with ourselves, our local community and the world at environmental justice, violence in our society and globallarge. It is these relationships that give my life worth and I poverty…just our presence is all that is required to make aexplore these relationships by taking a deeper view of my difference in this world whether it is to correct an injustice,everyday actions and how these are driven by my values… to comfort a friend or inspire others. It is often the most mundane act that can have the most profound effects.John Marsh our former minister had a wonderful blessingwhich captures this sentiment: “As we sit down to enjoy this …I firmly believe to truly find meaning in the mundane wefood, let us remember that this food is brought to us through need to open our mind to the wonder and depth of thethe labors and struggles of our brothers and sisters through- world around us and take creative actions consistent without the world, may we wish the same for them as we our- our highest values. Even our most ordinary actions can haveselves have today.” an impact both on ourselves and our community far beyond what we can ever imagine. Being alive is a gift from natureThis brings a connection on the global scale to people we but living a meaningful life is a gift to [ourselves]. Amen andwill never know but we depend upon daily. This gives us may it be so.such a greater appreciation for the meal we often eat whileabsorbed in some other activity. Just by having this aware-ness of the origins of our food already provides a human con-nection and a wonder for our existence…This is a great untapped area of financial influence we allhave. Even if only a small percentage of our purchases buyproducts resulting in improvement in our society this wouldhave a profound impact. Our religious society has takensteps in this direction with the Fair Trade coffee we drinkafter the service in our coffee hour. Now coffee may be justone product but it is the second biggest import to the U.S.after oil therefore the Fair Trade of coffee is already having asignificant positive impact on a global scale…If we think in greater depth about these purchases beyondthe price, quality and style of the product to the conditionsof the workers involved, the environmental impact, and theethics of the company involved this gives far greater meaning 25
  • 26. Bringing Home the Bacon Yes, these programs exist, but they are woefully inadequate. Rev. Dr. Michael Tino Consider the hypothetical “average” family on the US De- partment of Agriculture’s own website for the program for- Minister, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern merly known as Food Stamps.... This family of four has Westchester, Mount Kisco NY, January 11, 2009 $1,500 a month in earned income: $18,000 a year....Before Christmas, I volunteered with a number of people They get a little bit from Social Security because of this lowfrom this Fellowship at the Mount Kisco interfaith food pan- income, an amount that pretty much goes right out the doortry….Together, we packed over a hundred bags full of food for child care expenses. You can imagine what they mustfor the hungry people waiting in the cold outside. spend on rent to live in New York—actual housing expensesWe figured a hundred bags might do for the two days the don’t count.pantry was open that week—it was significantly more than They don’t own a car.... Nor do they have any money inhad been distributed last year. Our efforts would barely last the bank. They’re living paycheck-to-paycheck….the first day of the two, though, and some seventy morebags had to be packed the next day. ...The program is pro-rated based on income, so they get $239 a month, which works out to a little under $2 per day...With the economy hitting the skids, and the number of per person in their family. (USDA SNAP website)unemployed and underemployed increasing dramatically,the number of hungry people in our community is increas- The average food stamp benefit for those poor enough to being.... Food banks have eligible for assistance untilbeen straining for years recently has been just aboutunder the burden of pro- $1 per person per meal. $3viding nutritious food for a day, $21 a week. And lastcommunities across our year’s Farm Bill didn’t raisecountry, and this strain is the amounts by much.only getting worse. (Congressional Food Stamp Challenge website)“For the year 2006, theU.S. Department of Agri- When was the last time youculture reported that 35.5 had a meal that cost only amillion Americans lived in dollar for all of the ingredi-households considered to ents?be ‘food inse- The Federal Food Stampcure….’” (UUA) program is so inadequateIn fact, 10.4% of New York households are labeled “food that it has led participate in what’s called theinsecure,” meaning that they do not have access to enough “Food Stamp Challenge,” in which people try to live on foodfood for “an active, healthy life for all household mem- costing only $21 for a week.bers.” (Bread for the World, USDA Food Security websites) Almost uniformly, the people who have tried this challengeSome 4% of New York households experience chronic hun- have found it difficult at the very least; most have found itger and malnutrition. impossible to obtain adequate nutrition, even if they canAnd the numbers on food insecurity and hunger are bound manage adequate calorie intake. [As Journalist] Sarahto rise when statistics for 2008 and 2009 come out. We Barr… ended her article reflecting upon her challenge...:cannot wait... to do something. “Like I said, I havent been extremely hungry, and while I know theWe must seek both short- and long-term solutions to issues diet isnt nutritious its enough to keep me going. One more confes-of food insecurity in this country, and in this community. sion though.People must be able to eat now, and they must have access“Saturday is my last day, and I plan to quit as soon as I scarf downto adequate, nutritious food from now on. an early dinner so that I can go out with my older brother for hisYou might be wondering, whether there aren’t programs to birthday. Im willing to bet drinks and dinner (take two) are in or-help people who don’t have enough food to eat? Programs der. The conclusion of my week spent on a food stamp diet will be alike Food Stamps? celebration. “Hardly a realistic end.” (Barr) 26
  • 27. Tomato, Tomahto Peggy Clarke Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Westchester, Mount Kisco NY, July 19, 2009Tomatoes are arguably the most consumed fruit or vegeta- guys are able to pick a ton of tomatoes in a day, netting asble in our country…. 28% of Americans eat a meal every much as $50 for their 12 hours. Everything has to go veryday that contains at least one tomato. It is estimated that right for that to happen, including not having this sorryevery American eats about 29 pounds of fresh tomatoes a white girl in the fields to trip over. I was able to sustain 2year and an additional 73 pounds processed in tomato buckets an hour which gave me a total of $7.04 a for mysauces, ketchup, etc. eight hour day. I wasn’t once able to throw that 32 poundBut tomatoes only grow locally bucket to the foreman, so as Iin the summer…. approached the truck, some- one else would throw it andImmokalee, Florida is the to- I’d give him my 44 cents.mato capital of the nation. It’sa desolate shanty town 10 min- The tomato fields of Immoka- lee are also ground zero forutes from Bonita Springs, awealthy coastal town, and modern slavery. …[O]neabout 45 minutes from Naples, the 2nd wealthiest metro- slavery ring was broken and the slaveholders were con-politan area in the country. The heart of the town is a 9 victed, but that’s a rare occurrence. It happened becauseblock grid of dusty, potholed, empty streets, lined with one slave who’s name is Lucas was able to break free. Hetrailers fit for 1 or 2 with 10 or 12 pairs of shoes by the was looking for work in the fields and didn’t know anyonedoor.... Per capita income in Immokalee is $8,500. 90% in Florida, so he arranged a deal with a man for a place to live. The man offered credit for weeks there wasn’tof all the tomatoes eaten in the US are grown there. enough work along with room and board. But when LucasI know something about Immokalee because I’ve spent showed up, he found that the room for which he was payingsome time there working with – and along side of – mi- $20 a week was actually the back of a U-Haul truck that hegrant workers over the course of a few years…. [W]hat shared with a dozen other men…. There was no light orhappens in these fields is not open to the water or toilet of any kind in the truckpublic. But we went and I was able to get Pickers stand in line on the and the door was locked. For his $20 heout there year after year to learn what life street waiting for the buses also got 2 meals a day of eggs, rice andas a tomato picker was really about. in the dark of the morning. beans and was charged for everything in-Pickers stand in line on the street waiting This makes sense to me, not cluding $5 per use of the cold hose forfor the buses in the dark of the morning. because tomatoes need to be cleaning and drinking. Lucas worked theThis makes sense to me, not because toma- picked at 5am, but because field and his paycheck went directly to thetoes need to be picked at 5am, but because most citizens don’t want to slaveholder who then gave Lucas a fewmost citizens don’t want to see the faces of see the faces of the men who dollars a week while adding up the debt.the men who work these fields. They pile work these fields. They pile When Lucas tried to leave, he was beatenonto the buses, hoping to get a space. Not onto the buses, hoping to badly. He and the other slaves wereeveryone will have work every day. Once get a space. Not everyone slashed with knives, tied to posts andon the fields, they’re given a pair of gloves will have work every day. shackled in chains…. Early one morningand a barrel and they’d head out to the after several years in this hell, Lucas saw arows of hedges…. Once full, they hoist the bucket onto small hole in the roof of that u-haul and was able to breaktheir heads or shoulders and carry them to a very large, his way back truck. The foreman is standing at the top of thetruck.... The pickers then throw the buckets over their More than a thousand people have been liberated in the pastheads and the foreman catches it, dumps the tomatoes and 10 years, but there are thousands more locked into slaverythrows it back to the worker who runs back to the rows. in Florida right now….They were paid, believe it or not, 44 cents for each 32 All this so our supermarkets can have bins overflowing withpound bucket. Working at breakneck speed, some of these ripe tomatoes in January. 27
  • 28. Are you what you eat? the pollo is on your plate. Geri Kennedy My Journey Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City, CA Diane WaltnerOn a deeper level, do we consider what we are eating and First Unitarian Universalist Church of Wichita, KSwhether its origins are compatible with our personal val- I grew up on a farm, about 6 miles outside of Moundridge,ues? KS…. [O]ne of my cousins and one of my uncles had dairySince the beginning of time, dietary practices have been farms, a neighbor raised sheep, and my dad owned Centralincorporated into the religious practices of humanity. Some Kansas Hatchery, which hatched chickens and turkeys. So Ireligious sects abstain, or are forbidden, from consuming came from a decidedly non-vegan background, firmly en-certain foods and drinks; others restrict foods and drinks trenched in animal agribusiness. Growing up, I spent manyduring their holy days; while still others associate dietary hours at the hatchery and would sometimes play with theand food preparation practices with rituals of the faith. The baby chicks and turkeys, but never really saw them as feelingearly biblical writings, especially those found in Leviticus, beings, more like animated stuffed toys.Numbers, and Deuteronomy of the Old Testament out- Over the years I’ve seen thousands upon thousands of chickslined the dietary practices for the Jewish faith. We heard being de-beaked, de-winged, vaccinated in the neck, andsome of these earlier this morning. Practices such as fasting thrown around like objects. Personally, I have also de-are a part of many religious traditions. combed chicks and de-toed turkeys. I now look back in hor-There are many theories about the origins of some of these ror at some of the things I did, saw, and heard. And, ofrestrictions and customs, but that is for another day. course, outside one of the back doors at the hatchery was theOur relationships with food are very complicated. We big barrel, where the cockerels (male chicks) were dumpedhave family and ancestral traditions, religious rules, dietary to suffocate. I think gas was sometimes added so they would die more quickly. But that was a place I pretty muchrestrictions for health and much more. avoided.Many people have lost the connection to the origins of ourfood. Very few Americans have ever visited a farm, much Now my parents were certainly not evil people. Dad was aless had personal contact with a pig, cow or chicken. There pillar of the community and could always be counted on toare chilren growing up in inner cities who have never even help out when needed. Mom was the closest person to aseen a living, growing vegetable plant, much less know that saint that I have ever known. I don’t recall her ever reallypeanuts come from the ground and walnuts grow on trees. saying a bad thing about anyone, although she did expressThey can be shocked to learn that carrots are actually roots! irritation at some. I can’t really imagine a more loving fam-We change the names of our food to avoid thinking about ily. And although we certainly had our disagreements andwhere it comes from – we eat beef and pork, not cows and differences, I always felt loved and supported, and I miss them terribly. I’m just very saddened that humanity haspigs. Livestock growers talk about units of production, not reached a point in which this treatment of animals is consid-individual animals. In Spanish, the gallina walks around, ered acceptable, even normal, and that even good and com- passionate people seldom extend their compassion beyond the human race…. [O]ver the course of the last couple of years, I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with my consumption of eggs and dairy. I couldn’t completely allow myself to see the re- alities and kept thinking that I was doing enough to reduce unnecessary suffering. I would tell myself the lies that the agribusiness industries spew - for example, that eggs and dairy were necessary to be healthy. I really didn’t want to know any differently. I sought out “humane, organic” cheese and “cage free” eggs, thinking at the time, that was a good compromise. But things just didn’t feel right, and I have since learned terrible things about the fallacy of “happy eggs and cheese….” 28
  • 29. Additional ResourcesHolidaysThanksgivingIn the Americas, the first harvest festivals were celebrated by native peoples long before the Europeans arrived. The Span-ish, the French, the English, and others, brought new harvest traditions to the Americas during the 1500s. Modern Canadi-ans celebrate Thanksgiving Day in October, which is a traditional time for harvest gatherings in the Northern Hemisphere.In the United States, Thanksgiving Day is delayed until late November. Although the American holiday is surrounded bymyths and important controversies, it’s significant for Unitarian Universalists (and here’s a bit of trivia: organized in 1620,the Pilgrim congregation in Plymouth, Massachusetts, became a Unitarian congregation during the early 1800s). The CoreTeam recommends the following websites as resources to help congregations reflect more deeply on Thanksgiving:• Resources for deconstructing the myth of the first Thanksgiving from Oyate, a Native organization working to ensure that Native lives and histories are portrayed honestly:• Teacher and student resources for American Indian Perspectives on Thanksgiving from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian:• University of California Los Angeles news video by Chiara Sottile (daughter of Ethical Eating Core Team member Robette Dias) on the 2008 National Day of Mourning on the island of Alcatraz, rejecting myths of Thanksgiving and honoring the heritage of native peoples:• The UUWorld (Winter 2008) article “Dinner Dilemmas: Ethical Issues at the Thanksgiving Dinner Table” by John Gibb Millspaugh, available in unabridged form at dinnerdilemmasEarth Day (April 22) celebrations began in 1970. LaborDay, the first Monday in September, honors “the strengthand esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,”according to first U.S. proposal of the holiday in the 1800s.St. Francis Day (October 4) honors St. Francis of Assisi,Catholicism’s patron saint of animals and ecology.The Feast of Booths (Sukkot) is the Jewish harvest festival.International Human Rights Day, established by the UnitedNations, is December 10. By a happy coincidence, it is alsothe day when the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded. Some con-gregations honor December 10th as one of their Decemberholidays.Great American Meatout - March 20www.meatout.orgWorld Vegetarian Day - October 1www.worldvegetarianday.orgWorld Farm Animals Day - October 2www.wfad.orgWorld Food Day - October 16www.worldfooddayusa.orgWorld Vegan Day - November 29
  • 30. WebsitesThe Earth Charter is a beautiful statement celebrating ethical eating and environmental justice. The preamble affirms theneed for “a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a cul-ture of peace.” www.earthcharter.orgThe National Farmworker Ministry. Has an extensive library of worship materials in English and Spanish; particularly ap-propriate for holiday celebrations of Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Ministry for Earth (UUMFE). Offers a broad array of environmentally-themed worship resources, including materialappropriate for intergenerational worship. uuministryforearth.orgUUs for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (UFETA). Sermons, quotations, and readings for worship, and even a “Blessingsof the Animals Resource Packet.”“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” is the statement of human rights identified with the United Worship Web, has an extensive collectionof readings, chalice lightings, and other servicematerials. Tips for Service LeadersRev. Victoria Weinstein, Minister of the First Parish Unitarian Church of Norwell MA, teaches Unitarian Universalist Worship and Lit-urgy at Andover-Newton Theological School. Rev. Weinstein was happy to support this CSAI process, and provided a special updatedversion of her worship guide, recognizing that Social Action committees, Green Sanctuary committees, and other groups of laypeople maylead worship services launching the “Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice” CSAI in their congregations.Why do we worship? Before you lead a service, be sure you have your own understanding of this question. If you haveno sense of deep purpose, neither will the congregation.Preparation equals love. Leading worship should look easy and natural, but it is neither. Before you participate or pre-side, know every element of the service, be intimately familiar with “what goes next and WHY” and be extremely pre-pared. Your preparation will not guarantee perfection, and shouldn’t. It will guarantee your confidence in leading the con-gregation through a reverent worship experience.Energy equals love, hospitality and inclusion. No matter what your personality type, you must bring a vitality andpresence to worship with your body and voice that includes and embraces all who enter the worship space. Find your lead-ership persona and practice it until it feels authentic to you. This includes rehearsing with microphones, studying your re-flection in the mirror, watching video of yourself, asking friends for feedback, or leading parts of worship for a few observ-ers sitting in various parts of the worship space. P.S. Do not assume that because you have a “big voice” that you can beheard. Enunciation and pacing are at least as important as volume. Use microphones if they are available and learn tomodulate your voice to get the best use of them. People using hearing-assisted devices will thank you for it.When leading worship, you are a conduit of the Holy, so get out of your own way. Worship is no time fordebilitating self-consciousness, excess self-deprecation, or sarcastic asides. Keep your own feelings pure and your actionsfocused as you preside or participate. This is a congregation, not an audience. They are not there to assess or judge you,but to share worship together. Avoid nervous commentary between elements, “whoopsie-daisie” confessions of error, andsarcastic asides.When leading an issues-oriented worship service, remember that the service should minister even tothose who come with no acquaintance with, and no particular interest in, the topic. Find places in the ser-vice that address the spiritual needs of all those in attendance and be sure that your sermon has more spiritual and religiousrelevance than a mere lecture. 30