Shield of the Episcopal Church of the United States Environmental Stewardship Commission
Shield of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota
Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Resolution

The following is offered for your information and comment.  On this and similar pages the Environmental Stewardship Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota intends to offer thoughts and ideas on how any congregation or individual with a congregation can implement portions of the Resolution.

From "A Resolution on The Spirituality of Food Production"
passed at the 144th Annual Convention (October 26-27, 2001)

"WHEREAS we believe that feeding people is an honorable and socially just endeavor; that farming is a noble vocation that gives great pride to those involved in it; that farmers can feed the whole world with safe, healthy, and nutritious food; and,
"WHEREAS we believe that we are all responsible to promote justice in our own lives, in our Communities, and the world; we do this for the sake of our neighbors, future generations and all of God's Creation; and that we are called to treat everyone with justice – even our enemies; that we have a special responsibility to those over whom we have an economic, political or social relationship; and,
"WHEREAS we believe that agriculture needs a just, free market system that works for all people; and that it is imperative to have wide distribution of land and resources; and,
"WHEREAS we believe that we have the personal and political responsibility to work toward supporting young and beginning farmers' efforts to stay on the land; creating and maintaining sustainable communities for future generations; and the creation of a sustainable, safe, and self-reliant food system; and that all our actions have an effect on the common good of creation; that we must carefully and prayerfully consider the choices we make that either positively or negatively impact the use of farmland, tillage practices, natural resources, technology, animal husbandry, and marketing and labor practices; and,
"WHEREAS we believe that in God, Creator of all that is, and Jesus Christ, our teacher, and the Holy Spirit, our Counselor, lie the source, the reason, and the support of all that is contained in our lives on our Earth Home"

Thoughts on A Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Distribution
by Bert Whitcombe

  Food, where does it come from?  The grocery store, the refrigerator, the table, that may be the totality of many of our individual relationships with the process of procuring and putting nutrients into our bodies.

  Let's take a trip backward through time and discover the relationship our ancestors had with food and then follow it forward to the present.

  For the vast majority of human experience we have followed either the hunter/gatherer or the agrarian model of food acquisition.  In fact it is only in recent times, within the last 75 years, that most of us have moved away from one of these models.

  In the hunter/gatherer model the fruits of the earth are our larder, community members each have an intimate understanding of some aspect of the process.  To one is knowledge of hunting, to another storage; someone understands medicinal plants and another food preparation.  This results in an intimate relationship with the food these ancestors ate and an intimate relationship with each other.

  One may imagine the delight and celebration of a successful hunt, the thanksgiving in a bountiful wild rice harvest and the grace in sharing food with a guest.  It is also easy to see the clear relationship that people had with the food that sustained them.

  The hunter/gatherer lifestyle is not only ancient; in fact it was still common on earth into the mid 20th Century.

  In the agrarian model almost every family unit had some livelihood involvement in the food process, be it farmer, processor, merchant or cook. Again the relationship throughout the process is intimate.  The distance between the farmer and the person eating the fruits of their labor was very few persons.  Consequently the ability to see and discuss the commitment and quality of the products was within the reach of the consumer, merchant and producer.

  The relationship with food, the producer and the consumer is intrinsic, thus the celebration, as in the hunter/gatherer lifestyle is closely tied to with the fruit of the land through the entire chain of production and consumption and fellowship.  It is worthy of note that prior to World War II, 80% of American livelihood was associated with farming, and now is less than 3%.

  In these times we almost never have any relationship with our food source. Who produced it, what integrity to quality, what are the actual ingredients, what about the quality of life of the growers and processors.  It is common to hear about recall of 1 million pounds of this or that product.  We are hearing very disconcerting studies of epidemic obesity and allergies.

  Certainly there was a time in the transition between agrarian and urban lifestyle when it appeared as though our new industrial food production would eliminate food shortages and quality, but it is now clear that the system is overburdened and out of control.

  Keep in mind that the root of celebration and fellowship is within the procurement and consumption of food.  When Jesus first celebrated Eucharist it is certain that the bread and wine, the whole meal was closely tied to those persons who were with him, they knew, personally, the growers, merchants and producers of the food used in their celebration.

  The Environmental Stewardship Commission presented "A Resolution on The Spirituality of Food Production" which was passed in 2001 at our annual convention.  It addresses the necessary commitment and action that the Episcopal Church in America, the Anglican Communion, the entire Global Faith Community need to take in order to redirect this most fundamental of human endeavors, the procurement of food.

As Episcopalians we are not alone in this focus, other denominations also have similar directions, these resources can be found by visiting other portions of this Website

Copyright statement

Bert Whitcombe is an active member of St. James' Episcopal Church, Fergus Falls, MN. He originally wrote these thoughts in 2002 and they appeared in the December 2002 issue of Soundings, the newspaper of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota.  Bert and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to Bert Whitcombe or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.

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