Friday, June 13, 2008

Thoughts on the Food Crisis

Last week the UN and World Bank issued some recommendations to help ease the global food crisis. The first was to boost production. When I heard this I was sorely disappointed and greatly concerned. Instead of boosting production where was the call to the fat nations of the world to curtail their overconsumption of the world's food resources? Where was the concern for the environment that yet again will be the really big looser in all of this?

Let's get this straight. There is no reason to boost production of corn or soybeans in this world feed the world's population. The real need is to properly prioritize our use of these products. We don't even need to pick on the ethanol industry (sorry, that's just way too easy) to make a difference. First, we need to somehow limit the amount of grains used to make high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I challenge you to find an aisle in the grocery store that doesn't have a product containing HFCS. Furthermore, I challenge you to go a week without consuming products with HFCS - it is nearly impossible. HFCS was developed to use up surplus corn, now that we don't have a surplus, isn't it time to rethink the need for some of these items? Second, we need to eat less meat. A great deal of grain that is produced is used for animal feed. Grains, particularly corn is a food that isn't natural to many of the animals we consume, thus requiring meat producers to supplement their diets with hormones and other nasty chemicals and drugs. The amount of energy needed to produce the meat consumed in the U.S. alone is nearly equal to the annual fuel consumption of U.S. motorists. Problem with high fuel costs? Curtail your meat consumption! Finally, we just need to stop eating so much! Smaller portions equal less calories which leads to healthier people. Supersize and other mega proportions of food are a form of gluttony and have no place in a world where people are struggling for even a basic meal.

I see a significant role for the church in this crisis. Not just providing aid where it is needed but developing, or redeveloping, a spiritual role for food in our lives. What would a national campaign to spiritually fast one or two lunches a week do to our food situation? How about a meatless fast?


1 comment:

David said...


Thanks for your thoughts on this issue. I am convinced that many of the pressing issues of our day have a deep spiritual component, for a part of spirituality involves ordering our desires. To be sure many of the messages sent by the church through the centuries had more to do with repression of desire, and that "puritanical spirituality" marked much of the early cultural history of the West. But it seems as if we have been in a long "adolescent rebellion" against puritanism and would do well to grow up into a mature spirituality that takes seriously the notion of limits and of the need to order desire.

Peace, David