Departures: Earth Practice

“Aware of our interdependence, we acknowledge that eating ethically requires us to be mindful of the miracle of life we share with all beings. With gratitude for the food we have received, we strive to choose foods that minimize harm and are protective of the environment, consumers, farmers, and all those involved in food production and distribution.” 

So begins the Unitarian Universalist Association’s 2011 Statement of Conscience: Ethical Eating and Environmental Justice.  These few words offer an Earth practice for today.

Mindful of the miracle of life we share with all beings:  As we take our first sips or bites of sustenance today, let us pause over it and look deeply into the journey it has made.  This food began somewhere.  Do we know where?  It was cultivated well or badly by someones. Do we know who?  Do we know how?  This food was harvested, picked, cut, gathered, unearthed, slaughtered and in many ways prepared for human consumption by many, many human hands and mechanical means.  Do we know by whom, in what ways, humanely or inhumanely?  Do we know where and how far this food had to travel to arrive at our table? Do we know the local grocery store employees who unloaded, arranged and otherwise aided us in selecting our food?  Who has prepared this food that we are about to eat?

With gratitude for the food we have received: Let us hold the food that we are about to eat for our own health and offer gratitude to the plants, animals, farmers, fishers, harvesters, butchers, loaders, drivers, stockers, cashiers and cooks who bring this food to us for our nourishment.

Minimize harm and protect the environment, consumers, farmers, and all those involved in food production and distribution: As we enjoy our food and drink today, what choices do we have that will allow us to decrease harm and increase health and protection for this great web of which we are a part and from which we receive?

Making ethical eating choices can be expensive, but they are not all so.  We may know that we are limited by income limitations, or by distance, or by limitations of travel in order to choose the best food options that minimize harm and protect all in the web.  Which choices can we make?  Which choices, today, can we commit to?  

With honor to the Earth, Mother of us all.

Bob Patrick

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