Food as Justice
by Josh Porter
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief last week’s Practice in triads (15-20 minutes)
Note: if you’re short on time, skip this and go to the next section.
If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life…
Then talk through the following debrief questions:
- How has this Practice been for you? Have you begun? If not, why?
- What was/is the most difficult part of this Practice for you?
Transition back to one large group (15-20 minutes)
Have a conversation around the following questions:
- Did you listen to the teaching on the way food shapes justice and injustice? What did you think?
- How often do you think about the story behind your food and how it affects the world around you?
- How does the prospect of adjusting your eating and shopping habits make you feel?
Read this overview
The entire Bible showcases God’s great concern for the poor and the hungry. In God’s economy, those with much are to sacrifice for those with little. This includes feeding the hungry. What a tragic irony then that, though God intended his people to do justice with food, it has instead become an instrument of rampant injustice.
The food that we choose to buy and to eat impacts the world in massive ways, for better or for worse. The global food industry contributes to slavery, human trafficking, poverty, environmental degradation, and horrific animal cruelty. All of this with a basic purchase at the supermarket or meal at a restaurant.
Disciples of Jesus are to embody a radically subversive way of life that not only refuses to participate in injustice, but also finds creative ways to recapture God’s heart for food as an instrument of kindness and compassion. To pull this off, our relationship with food may need to change.
Talk about the coming week’s Practice as a Community (10–30 minutes)
The following week’s practice is made up of two exercises.
Exercise #1: Adjust the Grocery List
Most disciples of Jesus don’t want to participate in injustice, but remain largely unaware of how the food they eat effects others. This week, spend time thinking through your regular shopping and eating habits to look for possible adjustments. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Look for the Fair Trade label on coffee, chocolate, and bananas.
- Consider ruling out or reducing brands and restaurants that utilize factory farms.
- Buy animal products and produce from local/family farms.
- Reduce the amount of animal products you consume regularly.
- Try replacing some animal-based staples in your diet with plant-based options instead.
- Reduce waste by buying in bulk rather than purchasing packaged food.
- If you often throw food out before you eat it, adjust your shopping habits accordingly.
- Curious about something you eat? Try researching it and learn where it came from.
- Ask God’s Spirit to empower you for understanding food as both precious and complicated.
- Commit to thinking about your food and where it came from before you buy and/or eat it.
Exercise #2: Using Food to Do Justice
Recapturing God’s heart for food is about more than rejecting injustice, it’s also about actively doing justice in the world around you. Think through possible ways in which you might participate in the using of food to do good. Here are a few suggestions:
- Fast together as a Community and donate the money you would have spent on food to a charitable organization that feeds the hungry.
- Volunteer at or donate to a local shelter, food pantry, or another organization working with those who experience food insecurity. If you’re in Portland, a few great options are:
- First Baptist Church’s drop-in ministry serves meals to houseless and and low-income people in Portland.
- Lift Urban Portland aims to reduce hunger and improve the lives of our low-income neighbors
- Portland Parks & Recreation has a Free Lunch + Play Program this summer at various local parks all around Portland to provide a meal to children and families in need. (Application and background check required for volunteering.)
- Adopt a refugee family and eat with them.
- Buy a meal for a houseless person and eat with them.
- Consider becoming a foster family, feed the kids you welcome into your home.
Work through these discussion questions (10-15 minutes)
- Any thoughts or ideas immediately come to mind for this Practice?
- Does this Practice seem daunting or exciting? Why?