Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 30

FOOD FIGHT CONFERENCE PLENARY 1 - Finberg & panelists going to have. And to me, that’s an example to see the interconnectedness of all things. And I would suggest that that is not unique to a Christian perspective. From the Zen perspective, there is a kind of creation myth. When the universe was created, this deity threw a net around the universe— it’s known as Indra’s Net—and it’s interspersed with all these knots that contain a jewel, and all of the jewels reflect the whole, and so everything . . . it’s kind of like this holographic image of the universe, and you can’t change part of it without affecting all of it. DM: Well, being a good Portlander, I have some chickens in my backyard. And so every day I go out and get the eggs from the chickens. And I’m looking forward to my son’s soon being old enough to go do this, so I don’t have to do it every day because it does kind of get old sometimes. And yet that, in a very minimal way, connects me with the food that I eat. It makes me appreciate the food that I eat more because I really get mad if I drop one of those eggs on the way back into the house. It feels very wasteful. It’s very difficult for people living in cities to relate to their food in meaningful ways. Wendell Berry in a couple of essays talks about the myth of modern society that says that money brings forth food. For most people living in cities and even a lot of people living in rural areas today, there’s a sense that money just makes food appear. And we go into grocery stores where there are tens of thousands of products—the average full service grocery store in the United States has over forty thousand products on the shelves. That is literally unfathomable. And yet, the only meaningful interaction I have with that food is, usually, I give the clerk money and I get to take it home and eat it. It’s very difficult for us to relate to our food in meaningful ways because we don’t see it as anything but food. We never see it as a plant. We never see it as an animal. Even in the produce section at Fred Meyers, have you ever seen dirt on something? And yet, most of those products have been in contact with dirt for most of their existence. So we live in a context in which our lives are set up to be disconnected from food. Part of this is the cost of most of us living in cities today. And again, even as early as World War II, most Americans were involved in agricultural production of some sort. And now that number of Americans involved in agricultural production is less than 2 percent, and that’s happened in three generations. So, I think that it is very important to think about food relationally, because whether we know it or not or have access to the information or not, our food sources do have an impact on other people and other parts of the place that they live. It’s just very difficult to know exactly what that impact is sometimes. We can certainly talk in an aggregate way about the fact that if you eat a lot of beef or pork in a systemic way, that has a significant impact on our agricultural systems. But it’s also important to remember that real other people touched the food that we ate, you know, and Max had mentioned how cool it was to be able to 27