This page is a monthly column that explores a variety of issues relating to Food Justice
Did you know that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) this is the International Year of the Pulses? Pulses, also called grain legumes, are grown for their seeds and dried. They include hundreds of types of beans, chickpeas, split peas, and lentils. Pulses generally exclude those legumes that are eaten green, used to make oil, or used solely for cover crops. Pulses are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe and should be eaten as part of a healthy diet to address obesity, as well as to prevent and help manage chronic diseases. Pulses are high in dietary fiber and may reduce the risk of coronary disease, provide calcium to promote bone health and are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants which may contain anti-cancer properties. And they are tasty too! If you have a favorite recipe including pulses, send it to the church and we will publish it in our newsletter.
The Presbyterian Hunger Program has published the following “Ten Commandments of Food”: 1. Eat food grown as close as possible to where you live 2. Give thanks for the food you eat 3. Strive for all people to have knowledge about and access to affordable, nutritious food (learn about food deserts in our country) 4. Eat mindfully and in moderation 5. Do not waste food 6. Be grateful to those who grow and prepare food for your table 7. Support fair wages for farmworkers, farmers and food workers 8. Reduce the environmental damage of land, water and air from food production and the food system 9. Protect the biodiversity of seed, soils, ecosystems and the cultures of food producers 10. Rejoice and share the sacred gift of food with all.
There is a long tradition in the church of fasting, particularly during Lent. Consider how you might bring fasting into your spiritual disciplines during these last weeks of Lent. You could eat simply for alternating days and put the money saved aside for the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, or omit meat from your diet for several days and do the same. Of course, fasting can also mean complete abstention. No one should try this without checking with their doctor if they have any special medical issues or are on a regular medication that needs to be taken with food. But many of us can fast for a day with no ill effects. Consider fasting for a day, or skipping one meal (breakfast doesn’t count if you don’t normally eat it!). The purpose of fasting is to help us be more aware of our dependence on food, our need to be thankful for it, and how much of our day is spent acquiring and preparing it. But fasting also opens up new space for us to consider other things: how we spend our time, how we spend our resources, our relationship with food, and even our relationship with God.
The Feeding Fredonia Challenge is here! October 10th through the 14th. If you are able, please contact the church office to volunteer on the 14th as we pick up the food, weigh it and pack the truck. Also, remember your own donations. If you could take them to area businesses that week, that would be great. Food needed is: beans, canned fruits, canned meats, canned vegetables, cereals, coffee, dry milk, peanut butter, rice, soups, pastas, canned spaghetti sauce, and jelly.
Many of you are aware of our Equal Exchange food products. You may even have purchased our coffee, tea or chocolate. But have you noticed that we also carry olive oil? Equal Exchange’s partner for its olive oil is the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable economic development with 41 farmer cooperatives in the West Bank. Through their cooperatives, small-scale farmers can lower their costs for processing their oil and maintaining their olive trees. Also the PARC provided social services for the women, children and families of the farmers. When you purchase this land, you help these farmers stay on their land and make a living for their families. Please consider purchasing your olive oil at our Equal Exchange table from here on out.
How can you combine a concern for caring for the environment and show a concern about your food? 1. 1. Eat Organic 2. Eat food that is grown close to where you live (we are so blessed to have a local farmers’ market). 3. Do not waste food (Remember when preparing vegetables that broccoli stems and asparagus stalks can be delicious when peeled. Beet greens and carrot tops can be cooked or used for pesto, radish and turnip greens can be cooked or used in salads, kale ribs sliced and sautéed, cauliflower leaves roasted with the florets.) 4. Grow some of your own food (even growing herbs can save on environmental costs of food processing) 5. Learn more about environmentally-friendly agricultural practices. 6. Learn about our local grange.
The results of the Feeding Fredonia Challenge are in and we have collected 5,425 lbs. of food. Again this year, we have experienced the support of the community and seen evidence of the importance of this effort. The village trustees and our mayor were enthusiastic in their support and, again, the Mayor proclaimed the week of the collection “Feed Fredonia” week. The vast majority of businesses were very willing to participate again. This year Fredonia (SUNY) is providing not only food but also volunteers and they had an article in The Leader. The Fredonia Central School is on board, which is crucial because last year they contributed over 1/3 of the food! We have received the support of the paper and WDOE (if you know anyone who works there be sure to thank them) and even Time Warner Cable News got on board. It is exciting to know that our little church can create such an uproar! But what is most exciting is knowing that through these donations we can continue to help our neighbors in need. Thank you to all of the members and friends of this congregation who made this event possible!
Bread is a beautiful thing, and a powerful symbol for Christians. But when bread has spoiled – it is far from beautiful! Waste is a terrible problem in the United States so doing what one can to avoid spoilage is important. One way is the put sliced bread in the freezer the minute you get it home (or if unsliced – slice it first!). The freezer takes none of its texture away and keeps it fresh-tasting. But if you don’t freeze your bread, don’t give up on it just because it has become stale. Consider: bread crumbs, croutons, French toast, bread pudding, or Panzanella (a tomato and bread salad). Or put it in vegetable burgers or meatloaf, top casseroles with it, make stuffing or toast it. Just don’t waste it!
Remember that the Fredonia Farmer’s Market continues even after school starts. Continuing to buy local produce helps everyone. First, locally grown foods benefit the environment. The food doesn’t have to be brought long distances meaning there are savings on fuel and therefore less pollution. Also, buying local food helps our local economy and we all know how important that is right now. Buying local food also helps biodiversity. By buying local products, instead of the products of industrial agribusinesses, we get greater variety and better flavor in our fruits and vegetables. If you have bought local produce, you know the difference in flavor. Buying locally also maintains beautiful landscapes by maintaining green spaces and it also helps local wildlife populations. Finally locally grown foods are more nutritious. Fruits and vegetables lose nutrients once they are harvested. When we buy from industrial agribusinesses, it gets problematic because of the substantial time between the harvesting and our access to the produce. Buying locally means the produce is fresher and better for us.
Alice Waters is a pioneer in the sustainable cooking movement which emphasizes using fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. In a recent interview she talked about all that we have lost because of our hurried lifestyles. She points out, first of all, that cheap fast food is never really cheap because it means someone wasn’t paid fairly for their labor. Also, we end up paying in the long run when we eat this food with diabetes, obesity and other health problems. This then puts a strain on our health care system and raises the costs of the health care system. She encourages people to eat seasonally appropriate food including whole grains and less meat. She also encourages us to be more mindful of our eating by shopping locally for fresh foods; taking time to prepare them carefully; enjoying and savoring our meals; and respecting the importance of health eating.