St Peter & St Paul's Newsletter - September 2022

Letter from Revd Helen Burnett.

‘Use your Loaf’ – to think logically, rationally, or with common sense; to use one’s head. The phrase comes from rhyming slang in which “loaf” is short for “loaf of bread.” My Mother used this phrase a lot!

For Use your LOAF means:

  • Locally produced
  • Organically grown
  • Animal friendly
  • Fairly traded

As we approach Creationtide and Harvest we must think hard and pray hard and act in the context of a fragile harvesting future – already a reality for many, and we see changing growing conditions in our own landscape.

Christ’s example, especially his shared meals and his Last Supper, shows that eating and drinking glorifies God. In 2004 at a Vatican Conference on Genetic modification Jesuit brothers from Zambia defended food’s sacredness with these words: ‘there are other and more suitable ways to feed a hungry world than adopting genetic engineering of crops. Food is not merely another economic commodity governed in its production and distribution by the laws of the market. Since it is essential to life, it is both a sacred entity and a global common good.’

As God’s representatives, responsible for the flourishing of the whole earth community, we live sustainably locally. We conduct a cosmic liturgy, as ‘the explicit voice of creation’s praise’, in the words of Pope John Paul II. We praise God best, through our food, when we know the growers, the farms, plants, animals, markets, and retailers in our locality. Living sustainably locally, with both wild and cultivated nature, especially in buying, growing, preparing, sharing, and consuming local food, is the best, most holistic way to serve God and neighbour. We’re sometimes told, by big business and their politicians, to permit TNCs (transnational corporations) to tinker with genes, seeds, soil, plants, and animals, in order to ‘feed the world’. We best feed the world, however, by encouraging local use of local food grown everywhere according to local wisdom.

Local food eliminates the climate damage of air and lorry food (and tourism) miles. Transporting one kilo of apples from New Zealand adds one kilo of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. Local food exposes the two lethal fallacies of current globalisation: 1) that industrial, ‘out of the bag’ agribusiness can continue indefinitely.

In fact, it cannot; and 2) there will always be abundant food to import, through fossil fuelled air and lorry freight. In fact, there will not and now more than ever it is clear that because of greater extremes of weather caused by global warming harvests are increasingly failing or falling short.

Read the labels. During the spring ‘food gap’, when freshness is scarce and expensive, you may have to source from southern Europe – but ‘thus far shall you go and no farther’.

Finally, and importantly, grow some of your own. Most people can prepare, or borrow, a 3ft by 20ft sunny raised bed, where you can deposit compost, and intensively grow and rotate a surprising amount of supplementary fruit and vegetables. Access community spaces for growing and if you have the skills to grow then share them with those who don’t.

Jesus celebrated communal meals often with his followers. There is special praise of God in sharing sustainably produced meals, complementary to the praise of mountains, rivers, fields, and animals. Living sustainably, locally symbolises our future when our lives impact well upon our local environment and our shopping decisions do no harm to others how we live and eat should always be a tool for the healing of nations.

Give us this day our daily bread……
Our challenge this autumn is to consider how can we at St Peter and St Paul’s celebrate harvest and the gift of God’s creation whilst also ensuring that there is food security for all? As poverty deepens and the Foodbanks are stretched is now the time for a ‘Community Fridge’ and could you help set it up?

Parts of this newsletter have been adapted from an article originally published in Green Christian magazine and based on the work of: Edward P. Echlin is Honorary Research Fellow in Theology, University College of Trinity and All Saints, Leeds; Chair of Catholic Concern for Animals; author of Earth Spirituality, Jesus at the Centre (John Hunt, 1999); ‘The Cosmic Circle, Jesus and Ecology’ (Columba, 2004) and member of the Henry Doubleday Research Association, the Soil Association, and Green Christian.