About ten years ago, we had a chance meeting with Rob Elliott, author of “The Food Maze”, and his partner Sally. They opened our eyes to problems in our global food systems, and showed us their personal, local, community-oriented response. When we got home, we started to learn more about our food and where it comes from. One morning we emptied all our cupboards and read the labels of everything in detail. Until then our buying choices were largely led by price, but we’ve always cooked from scratch and eaten fresh, so it was a surprise to us how many of our store-cupboard items contained ingredients we just hadn’t known about.
Soon, we stopped shopping in supermarkets, started finding out where our nearest farmers’ markets were, and rearranged our weekly schedule to incorporate new ways of buying food. Our Christian faith began to be an important part of this journey, as we realised that making choices around consumption was a response to the great commandment “love your neighbour” and to our original role as stewards of the Earth. It’s become more than just a ‘good’ thing to do; it’s about justice for the land and for the poor. We made the decision to reduce dramatically the amount of meat we eat and to make a considered choice about from whom we buy the meat we do eat – to know the principles and processes under which it’s been reared and slaughtered.
There have been challenges. We’ve learned that good food SHOULD cost money, so we go without in other areas to ensure that we can invest in a system which supports the soil and the people who grow our food. It’s been a mind-set shift, but it’s just about trying to honour God with the money that we have.
Another challenge has been other people! Many of our friends and family were interested and supportive (and ten years on, having a moral stance on what you buy is more commonplace) but it has been a stumbling block with some, and we haven’t always got it right as we’ve tried to strike a balance between being humble and sticking to important principals.
However, as our children have grown up with this focus on food as part of their everyday life, and our community has gradually joined in the journey, sharing the joy and appreciation of what we’re buying and eating with others has become a central part of our lives and an important expression of our faith.
This ‘Meet the Community’ article was written by Hannah Persaud, for the Wild Christian email, ‘Nature and Consumption.’ Hannah lives in Irthlingborough in East Northamptonshire with her family,