What does it mean to eat locally grown foods? Well it doesn’t mean you eat only food grown in your area. Rather it means you understand the importance of food or, as my friend David Bell says (Eating Locally, Artistically, justbetweentheridges.wordpress.com), the sacredness of food. Eating food from a neighbor or a local farmer has less impact on the environment than food grown at great distance from us. There are few transportation costs, less gas and oil means a smaller carbon footprint. Most local farmers use fewer pesticides or none at all that leads to less contamination of the environment and fewer chemicals to which we are exposed. The food is fresher because we are buying directly from the farmer we they can pick the fruit and produce at its peak instead of early because they don’t have to transport it as far. That leads to better nutrition for us and our families. The relationships built with farmers means you know where your food comes from and how it is produced. Those are some of the benefits but what about the sacredness of food?
Well, food is sacred. It is a gift from the Holy Presence to feed our bodies and when we separate ourselves from where it originates we lose a connection with the Holy that is basic to life itself. Throughout scripture food plays an important role in the relationship with God, and with the people of the bible. In Genesis God provided food for Adam and Eve, when they were banned from the Garden God still provided for them. The Israelites are fed by God with food from heaven; Elijah is cared for by angels; and at the end of his 40 days of temptation, the angels provided for Jesus. Ultimately we celebrate the sacredness of food every Sunday when we bless bread and cup and offer the feast of Jesus at the communion table. Food is important not just to our physical well being but to our spiritual well being as well. The work a farmer does is not only necessary to our existence it is a holy occupation, a sacred act, a connection between God, earth and us.
This week spiritual practice is to offer thanks at each meal for the food you eat. Here is the table prayer I use, you may use it or one of your own:
Holy Giver of Life, I thank you for this food before me, thank you for the earth in which it was grown, thank you for sun and rain that nurtured, thank you for the farmer who harvested it, and thank for the hands that prepared it. May this food feed our bodies as you feed our souls. Amen.
May your week be filled with wonderful food and abundant grace.
Ruth Jewell, ©September 16, 2014