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Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

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We meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.

Annual Special Projects


Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds

Resolution on Creation Season

Resolution on Green Congregations



Creation Season 2008 (Year A)
October 5 – 26, 2008

Proper 24, Year A
(October 19, 2008)

Special Recognition of the Place of Food in our Lives:
Food as Basic Human Need

Welcome! We're glad you're planning on observing a liturgical season of creation. We have prepared some materials for you to use in worship, teaching, and personal reflection for this Sunday.

The alternate Creation Season reading from a secular source below may be used in place of or in addition to the readings scheduled for this Sunday.

Oh Taste and See: A Practice of Ecological Care and Relationship

Knowing the Price that is Paid

The manner in which we produce our food illustrates the burden of knowledge plainly enough. There are always accidents. In September of 1996 there was an accident near Bakersfield, California. A crop dusting plane was spraying a cotton field with Lorsban when the wind shifted and the spray drifted over a neighboring vineyard where some farm laborers were at work. Twenty-two of them were poisoned including three pregnant women. One of the ingredients in Lorsban causes a range of neurological damage including birth defects in humans. The scale of this accident, and the level of its reporting, were both unusual. But things like it happen on American farms with fair regularity.


The poisons most typically used on food are nerve poisons, and many of them are acutely toxic. Safety restrictions in their application often go unheeded in the farm fields, particularly where large migrant populations with limited English skills, and perhaps limited literacy are at work. In California alone, thousands of cases of acute toxic poisons have been reported over the last several years, and given the circumstances of food production and migrant populations it can be assumed that many cases go unreported as well. Many of these incidents occurred when farmworkers were poisoned by direct application of pesticides, many others occurred from "drift" - the application of pesticides on neighboring fields. Case studies of poisonings of this type reveal wide variation in the application of good safety practices, and the availability of safety equipment and instruction for farm workers. While each pesticide has a required "re-entry" period - a period of time during which workers may not re-enter the area of application, the combination of drift and lax enforcement result in high numbers of poisonings.


Practices of Faith

If we are to practice our faith in the knowledge of consequence, we must find different ways to grow our food at far less cost to the earth and to our brothers and sisters. A practice of faith "addresses fundamental human needs and conditions through concrete human acts." In the fields where workers are routinely sprayed and exposed to poisons, fundamentally different practices are called for. We are faithful people everywhere we go, and we are responsible for actions taken on our behalf, or from which we benefit. If the Earth is God's holy body, and those who labor to grow our food are our brothers and sisters, the children of a common creator, then we are led to practices that are fundamentally different from the practices being carried on now.

Broken for You

Faith compels us to understand the sacramental nature of the ongoing sacrifice of people and ecosystems, and to require an alteration in the work that is done for us. We must alter these practices as a community, and not as individuals within it. A practice of faith that truly recognized each meal as a sacramental meal would require exposure of the conditions under which the ingredients were produced, the economics of their sale, and the cost they have exacted from the earth and the people in the production chain. We would not put in our mouths the wages of sin and exploitation. We would take to heart the message of the sacrament of eucharist "broken for you" and we would understand its application to every bite.

excerpted from the "Oh Taste and See: A Practice of Ecological Care and Relationship" by Rev. Clare Butterfield, Director, Faith in Place. This reading is found in What Makes Food Sacred?
Congregational Resources for the Abrahamic Traditions
, published online by the Alliance for Jewish Renewal.

Additional Readings from Scripture are found here.

Back to Proper 24 Main Page


Note: The additional reading was provided by Chuck Morello.


We welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to 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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