we have to farm Eden

‘Today’s global food economy, with its lengthy distribution networks traversing continents and oceans, makes it difficult for eaters to know the places and communities that produce and prepare food. Having so little direct contact with food’s context’s – the fields and waters, livestock crates and pens, the factories and distribution centers, worker communities and restaurants – it is next to impossible for us to act in ways that would promote the good of any place or community’
Norman Wirzba, Food & Faith, A Theology of Eating

It can tie your head in knots to think that each time you eat something there is some specific place somewhere on planet earth that had to grow that food,
(or the things that make up that food)
with very specific fellow human beings doing the farming and either treating creation with respect and love or else treating it badly.
It can tie your head in knots and so why would we even bother thinking about stuff like that? Why not just be thankful you have enough to eat and get on with living life as best you can.

I often do and my default setting is just to consume uncritically, to munch my way through a Mars Bar as I rush from one thing to the next. Yet at other times a sense of unease comes upon me. Because I eat I ‘m involved with agriculture and farming, and so are you. You are responsible for farming.

This can of tinned rice had to be farmed in different nameless places throughout the planet

It’s an incredibly complex journey from farm to my mouth (without even considering the packaging) so I won’t even try or else I might drive myself crazy.
Yet surely few things (if anything) are as fundamental to humanity to eating, which also means that few things are as fundamental as farming to human beings.
This is something which we have completely forgotten in our culture. We know that we have to eat but we don’t seem to realise or have lost sight of the fact that we are dependent on the farmer to grow our food. Right now you are completely dependent on the fact that someone, somewhere is growing your next meal. Farming and agriculture matter, they matter  more than the Man Utd game or ipad 3 or Google or nearly anything else.
And because we eat and depend on the farmer (who depends on grace and things he ultimately can’t control) we also depend on taking care of the earth like we were designed to do in Eden.
If we’re serious about looking after creation we need to support good farmers and those gardeners who use sustainable practices, even if that means much more work on our part in doing research and paying more for our food. We also need to stop supporting those who use destructive practices.

With most of our mass produced food  it’s nearly impossible to know if you have acted in a way that has promoted the good of the communities and places it has come from. So we need to go looking for good farmers who we trust, (or grow as much as we can ourselves) which means more work for us but is the sort of thing we probably should do more off if we’re trying to reflect that idea in Genesis of tending the garden of Eden.

 

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give us this day our daily (Fairtrade) salad?

I’ve been challenged the last few days by soya beans, NT Wright, The Lord’s Prayer and few Facebook friends.

Sitting by myself  in St George’s Market like a Billy-no-Mates  (Mrs Canal Ways is being cultured in Paris until Wednesday) I scribbled all over my notepad(and when I say notepad I mean paper and pen like in the old days, not fancy pants electronic tablet device with WiFi blah-de-blah), and drew thought bubbles here and there, and tried to work out what was going on…

Anyway, after a bit of mind judo and looking ‘intellectual’ I think my thoughts revolve around  words Christian’s pray regularly and what those words actually mean

‘..Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven…Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses…’

Firstly, what does the phrase ‘give us this day our daily bread‘ mean?

Is is it just the essentials like basic food, basic clothes, basic shelter, water etc?
Like should we be praying every day for chocolate cake?
Does that count as daily bread?

It would be a messy discussion for church to have but my feeling is we loose sight of the essentials all too easily and confuse ‘wants’ with ‘needs’. For example a family may say we need a large people carry to bring the kids from A to B and comply with EU laws. Maybe that is a need in our culture and society.But is a people carrier for our family daily bread? What are we going to do when families in China and India for examply want to eat the same people carrier daily bread? Are we going to say ‘Er no, because the earths resources won’t take the strain..?”

And secondly would the God who Christians proclaim is loving and just, the Jesus who is Lord and we make a big fuss about on Sunday mornings provide our ‘daily bread’ by exploiting our neighbours around the world?

Obviously once again these matters are complicated and the world is messy (for want of a better word) but do we just leave it at that and say something like ‘I’ve got to live my life, I can’t worry about everything going on in the world sad though it is…oh well,what can you do.?’

Do you ever notice that sometimes when people are slagging off the church  some evangelical book writers or speaker will say ‘Ah, yes, but what about William Wilberforce?He helped abolish slavery you know..
Now abolishing slavery is obviously good except for the inconvient fact that slavery still  goes on and  needs abolished. As this video shows they’re not just working the sugar plantations anymore, they’re working in the salad farms in Southern Spain to supply us here in Lisburn and Dublin with our out of season salads and tomatoes.

If a tomato is  essential daily bread(and we do need to eat) has God somehow given us that tomato using slave labour?
Because hard though it is for us to get our heads and disembodied bodies around that tomato wasn’t just plucked out of a pallet from thin air at the LIDL/ASDA/Tesco distribution cente.

It’s interesting the gentleman at the end of the film says

‘People just don’t want to hear.Everyone knows this system exists. It’s slavery in Europe.At the door to Europe there’s slavery as if we were in the 16th century.Let’s speak out together. No! Everybody can say it. No! You can say that if you continue like that, I’m not going to buy your products. Why do we not say this?’

He’s right. We often don’t want to hear.
Yet (and this is the point where I go into a self-righteous, hypocritical rant writing my blog) we hip, cutting edge Christians seem very adept at hearing that Rob Bell’s latest book is theologically unsound and then having endless theological discussions/fights/tweets/blogs around the reaction to that, or _______.
All the while there are areas of life that we don’t even begin to peak into because they’re too complicated or you need to be an expert  they say you need to be an expert to understand and we’ve more important things to be getting on with.
Eurovision is on!
Man Utd are playing Barca!
iPad2 is out and Steve Jobs is doing a launch!

But how can  we (and especially a Christian ‘we’) have become so used to not looking  into where our daily bread comes from or how it actually got there on our plates?
How can we pray ‘give us this day our daily bread’ and not wonder how God supplied it?
Is it unreasonable?Have I just got a bee in my bonnet about something and ‘oh well, what can you do,life goes on?’

All those ingredients in your stock cube that we don’t even know how to pronounce come from somewhere on planet earth. They where not supplied out of thin air in some magic portal out the back of Tesco. Perhaps it was grown in Brazil by slave labour. But who cares eh?

Meanwhile our daily salad or tomatoes most likely has been supplied by slave labour in Southern Spain. Forgive us our trespasses?