“Today is World Food Day. It is also Blog Action Day, an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of raising awareness and promoting discussion. This year’s theme is food.
While there are a lot of things people will blog about today that relate to food, my message is a simple one, captured by the title of my post: Food is a moral issue. By that I mean two things.
First, that some people lack access to sufficient food is something we all have a moral responsibility to do something about. Whether it is people dying from famine in East Africa or people in our own communities who do not have enough food to eat, we bear the responsibility of their suffering if we do nothing to address it.
As Christians, when we ignore the needs of the suffering, we fail to take to heart Jesus clear words to his disciple. “I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,…Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” I think Jesus actually meant what he said. Hence, our failure to do something – and that something can mean many different things, from contributing to food banks and other organizations that feed the needy to lobbying for programs that address famine – is a moral failure.
Second, our own food decisions have moral consequences. This is a subject I’ve become increasingly sensitive to in the last year and I think we don’t spend enough time thinking about. Every decision we make about our food purchases and consumption have consequences that we ought to consider. Fair-trade vs. non fair-trade goods. Local farms vs. industrial agriculture.
There are cost issues, to be sure. Fair-trade coffee costs more than non fair-trade coffee, which phrased differently merely says paying people what they deserve costs more than cheating them. Duh. Organically grown produce costs more than those produced with pesticides that harm the environment. Free-range chickens cost more than industrially produced poultry, which mistreat animals, give us food filled with antibiotics. I could go on and on (and my friends will tell you I often do).
Again, there are different ways we might address this and a range of choices we could make. But not thinking about the issue is wrong. We need to recognize that our choices have consequences – for ourselves, for those who produce our food, and for the world.
Food is a moral issue.”