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Food and Faith

Share a meal during the ‘hungry season’

Food is fundamental to life. In the warmth of the summer sun, fruits and vegetables grow abundantly. When daylight shortens and the temperature drops, plant growth comes to a standstill. Some animals follow the seasons and food source, as humans used to do. Now that we are residents rather than roamers, can we find local foods that sustain us through “hungry season,” the dark and cold months? It is possible to will eat locally and seasonally, by buying and eating our farmers' winter offerings.

We are what we eat. Garbage in garbage out. “Let thy food be thy medicine,” advised Hippocrates. But in these United States, 76 million citizens suffer food-borne illnesses yearly. Of those, 300,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die! (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Anonymous corporate industrial food, shipped on average 2,000 miles, has a greater chance of contamination than food from the local farm that I can visit myself.

We now know average citizens have more than 146 chemicals currently in their blood stream, contamination absorbed from outside their bodies. We know that conventional farmers are free to use pesticides, herbicides, hormones and pharmaceuticals, which have been shown to cause cancer and diseases, like Parkinson’s (Sierra Magazine, 2012). We know those chemicals may also poison farm workers and wildlife. Chemicals “in” mean chemicals “out” in food, soil water and air.

I put more faith in my local farmers with whom I can have a “human-eye-contact-based- relationship” and not with the corporate-industrial “person” farmers. How can a “person” who never eats, drinks, gets sick or dies know or care about what goes into my body or yours?

Study after study confirms that there's lower cholesterol in free-range eggs over eggs from confined chickens. Vegetables grown organically in living soils are shown to be more nutritious while nutrition in industrial foods is about 30 percent lower than it was 100 years ago. Since 17 percent of all greenhouse gas is produced by agriculture, when we eat locally and seasonally we are benefiting the health of body and environment. Eating locally and seasonally may be our best response to the environmental crisis.

New research suggests our national obesity and diabetes epidemics may be directly related to carefully constructed foods that stimulate food addictions, allergies and fool the hypothalamus into a consistent state of feeling hungry, while we over eat.

Thanks to the FDA, honest labeling is not required, yet according to estimates, 75 to 80 percent of conventional processed foods now contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

Are you concerned about food security? Reality is, every community has about three days food supply available in grocery stores to feed itself. Self-proclaimed “Lunatic Farmer” Joel Salatin says that only 5 percent of food sold is locally grown. He also believes that 90 percent of what we eat could be grown locally if we chose to eat seasonally. Thanks to the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project, Camas Country Mill and the efforts of local farmers, we can buy local produce, meats grains and dry beans. More citizens buying local and seasonal foods equals more local farmers producing food year round. Local food security could ensure the survival of our community.

Last but not least, when we spend a dollar in our local producer economy, that dollar stays in our local economy. When we spend dollars at nonlocal “chain” stores we are sending profits to corporate offices.

If eating locally and seasonally is a new idea for you or if you love truly great food, you can come partake of the seasonal fare available from our local farmers during the “hungry season” at the 13th annual That's My Farmer event (see details below). Zenon Sous Chef Kevin Risinger will receive food donations from 13 of our local community supported agriculture (CSA) farmers and create a divine soup. Culinary Arts and Hospitality students from LCC will bake and serve us fresh rolls made with local grains.

We will talk, listen, learn, meet farmers and neighbors; sign up for CSAs; win fabulous door prizes (flats of blueberries, shares of pork, eggs, homemade pies, compost, worms) and more. We will sing fun songs and eat great food. We will share the celebration of community in appreciation and wonder for those who know how to produce our food throughout the year.

As the members of 13 local faith communities sponsoring this event, we want our entire community to know the importance of eating locally and seasonally. We believe everyone who loves the “creator” also loves and cherishes the “creation.” We welcome all who wish to eat and live well on the planet. The suggested donation is $5 to $15, with no one turned away. All donations go directly to subsidize CSA food shares for our neighbors who need good food the most.

If our local farmers can count on our community to buy their goods — year round — including during the “hungry season” — then we can count on our farmers to produce safe, delicious, fresh, and nutritious food year round for us!

Come to the 13th annual That's My Farmer! “Share a Meal During The Hungry Season” from 5:30 to 7:30 pm Tuesday, March 13, at First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St. in Eugene For more information, call Patty Hine at 343-5091.