The New York Times has a fascinating article today on the emergence of sustainable food practices as a religious issue. Food, of course, has always been an issue for many religions. Jews who keep kosher can’t eat pork or shellfish, halal Muslims also can’t indulge in pig products, and observant Hindus abstain from eating beef. The new religious focus on food isn’t about prohibiting dietary items (although there is a fairly large scale Christian vegetarian movement), but rather, about adopting values more closely associated with the political left: paying workers a living, rather than minimum, wage, slaughtering animals humanely, and using organic methods to better respect the earth. There has also been a move toward eating locally as a form of environmental activism.
We think this is an excellent development. The production of food is, we believe, an issue of basic morality and, on a more practical level, this is good for the consumer. Although we definitely don’t keep kosher (blame the siren song of bacon), we’ve long purchased kosher meat when possible because it tastes better and we know it’s been raised humanely. Regardless of the reasoning behind it, increased availability of organic food, humanely raised meat, and living wages are all definitely good things.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Times article is the political questions it raises. If indeed, concerns about sustainable agriculture are on the rise among the religious, than it stands to reason that issues like the Farm Bill could impact the (highly coveted) vote of religious blocs.
[Photo: Garden Services]