LOCAL FOODS ~ A FAITHFUL CHOICE
How is choosing to eat food farmed or produced locally an expression of Christian faith?
After all, in a ‘global village’ we might perhaps wish to express ‘love of neighbour’ by supporting food
producers not only in Nova Scotia, the Maritimes, or Canada, but also in the global south. Right?
Unfortunately, it’s not quite so simple. One serious difficulty with this is that many countries in the
global south have redirected their food production to export – leaving their local populations foodinsecure
and hungry. Farmlands that once fed local populations have been expropriated to produce
food for us. Not enough food is staying home.
So while in theory our buying of their foods produced might be ‘love of neighbour’ in terms of putting
money into these countries, the reality is that regardless of how much money we put into these
countries, there is less and less food there for people to actually buy with that money. So people are
food-insecure, hungry, even starving.
Climate change has made this issue even worse. As drought and flooding destroy fertile farmlands in
the global south and even in the US, the decreasing amount of farmland available is leveraged for the
profitable export market. So even less food is remaining in these places, as all energy is focused on
continuing to provide food to us.
So our Partners-in-Faith in the global south have asked us for help in rebalancing this inequity, by
significantly decreasing our purchase of imported produce. Their hope is to undercut export profits in
favour of preserving their own local food production -- so they have enough to eat themselves.
That’s a pretty good and faithful reason to eat locally-produced food. As people of faith, we’re trying to
live as Jesus taught – and what he taught is to want SHALOM for all God’s people. Shalom is the
Hebrew word for peace, but it means more than that: enough to eat, clean water to drink, safe shelter,
security from violence, and fullness of life and well-being. So supporting food security for all God’s
people is one faithful reason to eat locally-produced food. But there are a few others.
Foods coming from afar naturally depend on fossil fuels for their journeys. The shorter the journey,
the less pollution it produces. Foods produced locally also, of course, support local farmers. But it’s
also wise and faithful, as climate change diminishes the global amount of fertile farmland, for us to
ensure and develop food production in our own still-moderate climate. So by eating local, we can be
part of global food security into the future, building our food-production capacity as the world’s
Goldilockses discover that we’re neither too hot nor too cold, too wet nor too dry, but just right.
So how can we express our faith and follow Jesus’ way with regard to the food we buy?
1. First things first: outside of NS harvest season, locally produced food often costs more than
imported food. This puts it out of reach for some of us, some or all of the time. But when and if
it’s possible for you, paying these higher prices may be a responsibility of affluence, in support of
the greater good and as an expression of love of neighbour.
2. Buy in season, and freeze or store if you can.
3. Look for local foods in season at your grocery store, and if they’re not there ask WHY.
4. If others buy and prepare your food, ask them about sourcing local foods in season.
5. Develop an appreciation for apples, blueberries, and root vegetables. The climate hasn’t
changed that much…