Tuesday, May 06, 2008

...about Fruit

Wow! It's been a long time since I've posted. This is scheduled to appear in the local paper tomorrow.

Now, the very religious might think I’m going to write about the fruit of the Spirit. I’m not. But for those who are now curious or don’t remember the list, the Bible says "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22).

I’m not writing about that fruit. I’ve been thinking about peaches and pears.

As a pastor I’m asked to pray from time to time. A few years ago at a funeral reception I was asked to say grace before we ate. I thanked God for the food we were about to eat and for those who prepared it for us. Afterward a farmer came to me and asked, "Why do you pastors always thank those who prepared the food but never those who grew it?" It was a good question and now I try to remember those farmers in my prayers as well.

No doubt you’ve read, heard, and seen the news the last few weeks about the impending and now apparently inevitable closure of a cannery in St. David’s. A number of area fruit growers depended on this cannery to buy their fruit.

I haven’t heard what these growers are going to do now. I’m guessing there’s only so much they can sell as fresh fruit to grocery stores and at farmers’ markets. I’m guessing at least some of them might go out of business.

But do we care? I don’t usually give much thought to where my food comes from. When I go to the store I don’t look at the label to see where the food was grown, if the label even tells me. When I go to my favourite fast-food outlet, or occasionally to a better restaurant, I don’t know and don’t much care about who raised the cattle, what they were fed, or how they were treated, before they became the burgers that I so enjoy.

But when I heard the news about the local cannery that is, and the local farmers that may go out of business I started to care. There are always a lot of factors behind this kind of thing. I’m no economist and can’t pretend to know about it all. But part of the reason is that farm workers here get paid something like $10 an hour to pick fruit. Not as much as I make as a pastor but a lot more than the farm workers in Central and South America who work for $3 a day.

Eating locally grown and raised food supports farmers struggling to maintain their livelihood. If local farmers go out of business it won’t be long until we’re paving over their land and planting acres of subdivision housing. One study found that a regional diet consumes 17 times less gasoline than its equivalent shipped from across the country or around the world.

Maybe it’s time to start caring more about what we’re eating. Where does it come from? Who and what is affected in the web of production and supply that brings food to our tables?

When we make decisions about what we eat and how we spend our grocery money we are making decisions about how we love our neighbours and how we love our planet, God’s creation. The news from St. David’s has been a bit of a wake-up call for me. I think it will cause me to think more and to care more. And I’ll pray for those farmers, farm workers, and cannery workers.

1 comment:

LutherPunk said...

This is good article, and I am glad that yours will be among the "religious" voices discussing it in the public realm.