Seattle is a little snobby about food. (Sorry friends, but it’s true, isn’t it?) It’s good that people are concerned about the environment impacts of food production and about supporting local growers and producers. It’s also good to eat food that healthier for us. I totally buy that, I’m trying to eat healthfully myself. But the other day at my daughter’s co-op preschool the parent who was on snack went out of the way to make sure that everyone knew that all the snacks were organic non-GMO. It seemed a little on the nose.
Working at Seattle Mennonite Church, I’m around a group of folks who don’t always know where their next meal is coming from, and the next bag of groceries is, more likely than not, coming from North Helpline food bank. It feels like such a disconnect to live in a city where people pay premiums for organic produce from Whole Foods when outside there's a lady who offers to recite a poem for my pocket change.
Now this is also a city at whose food banks I notice a lot of organic and local produce. Once, in the Winnipeg food bank where I worked, the majority of the delivery one day was boxes and boxes of frozen sheet cake. And maybe a few cans of pasta. (Let them eat cake, indeed!) At least here I notice a better balance of foods, including veggies from all the awesome local farms. It’s a fine and sensitive line between shopping ethically and being self-righteous about groceries when so many people wish they could afford groceries at all.
Even in the co-op, how much pressure is it on the parents who don’t make organics a priority, or who can’t afford the higher prices, to now think that to be in our co-op they need to show up with the ‘right’ kind of snack? I don’t worry too much about what the other co-op parents think of my snack, but I do walk the fine line myself. I like to make sustainable and healthful choices. And especially with meat I try to buy from animals that have been ethically and sustainably raised. But often I opt for what’s cheaper because I’m on a budget.
Is it possible to ask the question ‘what would Jesus eat?’ I’m pretty sure that eating organically wasn’t really an issue. I think he would probably eat anything that was set in front of him and pay more attention to the people at the table than what was on his plate. So for me it comes down to: make the good choices you can, share what you have, eat together, and give thanks for the food, the earth and the One who makes all things.