Eugene Friends Meeting

Eugene Friends Meeting

of the Religious Society of Friends ("Quakers")

Food and Our Testimonies

Food unites and food divides. It both marks us into tribes and gives us opportunities to reach past our societal limits. From chicken barbecues to vegetarian-dominated potlucks, what we put on the table says a lot about our values, and how we welcome unfamiliar food choices is a measure of our hospitality. How do kitchen-table spreads of tofu and chickpea dips reinforce certain stand-apart cultural norms? Are Friends who like barbecue ribs less Quaker?

Martin Kelley, Friends Journal

Food and diet are about the most personal habits we have, with our individual likes, food sensitivities, family celebration customs, comfort foods, religious restrictions, and cultural preferences. In some faith traditions, foods or food restrictions are used to help worshipers feel a connection to the Divine, to identify people as belonging to a certain group, as a means of purification or becoming holy, or to intensify prayer (as during a fast). 

Being Friends means our food choices are decided by how we sense the Spirit speaking in our lives. We believe that our food choices are individually guided by our conscience and our personal testimonies, and that every day is holy, and offers a chance to live our testimonies. 

We are all aware that our food choices impact the health of the planet (deforestation, global warming, drought). How does Spirit guide your food choices? Every one of our traditional Quaker Testimonies can guide us to consider changes:

  • Simplicity: Simplicity guides us to be frugal, spiritually centered, and attentive to direct experiences and relationships. Choosing simple foods that are not overly processed or overly packaged is a gift to the planet, as is cutting back on waste, composting, and experiencing the joy of growing some of our own food.
  • Peace: Living in peace with the planet means seeing habitat destruction and pollution as acts of aggression. Transitioning to plant-based diets is one step towards peace with Nature, since meat-intensive diets are not only bad for the environment but feed the demand for cruel industrial animal production.
  • Integrity: Integrity leads us to be aware and honest about the impact of our actions on the earth, and testifying with our shopping and eating habits. We celebrate ecosystem integrity as the expression of Spirit in nature.
  • Community: Shared meals can re-energize a meeting or provide outreach to the local community. By extending our definition of community to include all living things we become true inhabitants of the places in which we live.
  • Equality: Buying our foods locally can help us to achieve food equity and food sovereignty, where control over food and farming rests with local communities, rather than a handful of consolidated agribusiness giants. Equality guides us to seek the right sharing of world resources within the whole community of life, so that Nature can thrive.

What does the search for greater integrity and wholeness in our lives require of us today? We are becoming more aware of the devastating impacts of human actions on the biosphere, that interdependent web of living creatures and natural systems that sustains a healthy, livable world. … If “that of God” exists in all of God’s creation, then protection of ecosystem health and integrity moves from being “merely” a matter of human survival to a core moral obligation of our time. … The choices we make about food are among the most significant ways that we affect planetary health.

Earthcare for Friends, Unit 7: Healthy Food, Healthy Planet by Molly Anderson

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