Ethical Eating Is a Justice Issue

What is ethical eating? How do we want to engage this issue at UUCA? Ethical eating can mean many different things to us individually, and in a diverse spiritual community the topic is bound to engage us in different ways. The UUA 2008 General Assembly selected “Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice” as the new Congregational Study Action Issue – this has sparked an association-wide effort to explore the hidden ways our food choices impact our communities and our world. While we certainly engage with this topic in the life, justice work, and worship of our congregation, is there more to do and learn?

To name just a few of these efforts at UUCA: we have an active community supported agriculture program, the Progressive Preschool and UUCA Summer Camp are very intentional about food choice, and we actively compost and recycle. UUCA Religious Education seriously engages this issue inside and outside of Sunday morning R.E. In fact, our 4th and 5th grade RE class UUCA service project this year is the Pancake Supper on Wednesday, February 25th. This year the Pancake Supper menu has changed from previous years in order to provide a more sustainable meal. This means using less processed foods, using local, organic, and seasonal ingredients where possible, and eating less meat. Proceeds from this Wonderful Wednesday dinner will go to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. We can be excited about the good work being done, and keep that energy going forward!

Also on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM in Room 213, please join us is an opportunity to access the Congregational Study Action Issue – Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice for 2008–2012! There will also be discussion on how to further study and engage with this issue at UUCA. We hope that youth and adults will get involved with this effort. It is an issue that affects us all!

Ethical eating can be as broad as topics such as: access to food, animal and human rights, quality of food, environmental impacts of food production – the list goes on. It can also be as simple as where we shop, what choices we make in the grocery aisles, and to which candidates or causes we give our energy. One thing is definitely true, there is no ultimate answer on the definition of ethical eating. Be aware that this can be a loaded topic! Engaging with our friends and fellow congregants on this issue requires compassionate communication and listening. What we eat and how we eat can be deeply held practice and belief. Some of us have strong feelings on particular brands or shopping venues – how we spend our money can be both an ethical and spiritual decision. Unitarian Universalists are engaged in social justice, moral and ethical dialogues on a broad range of topics, and this is not done lightly. Making food choices are a natural part of our everyday lives. When you entangle that with ethics, spirituality, purse constraints, and any number of thoughts and emotions – the choices aren’t always simple.

Our 7th principle states, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” I believe this asks us to understand that we are irrevocably connected. Being connected has implications of relationship, and it has implications of mutual consequence. The choices we make in our lives and how we live affects everyone and everything around us. While this might seem like a hefty weight or a guilty obligation, it can also be joyful engagement. Being a part of a larger system means that we can also make positive impacts, and I personally feel a part of something larger than myself. As we have seen in the current economic climate, the world is intimately connected for better or worse. Approaching ethical eating as a justice issue opens the door to thinking about the relationships we have not only with our planet and our food, but with one another.