Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 4

VOLUME 11 NUMBER 2 2016 EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION Have you ever witnessed or participated in a food fight? Whether one is referring to a fun food fight (like the scene in the movie Hook), or to a contentious battle over food in politics and business, all too often a food fight leaves a great big mess. Hopefully, this issue of Cultural Encounters based on The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins’ conference titled “Food Fight—A Civil Dialogue over Our Daily Bread” (April 18, 2015) will help clean up a few messes in our thinking and practices regarding the quality, cost, preparation, distribution, and place of food in our lives. In what follows, we draw from the perspectives of a lead figure at the USDA, grassroots activists and practitioners, as well as academics in addressing these important, relevant themes. I mentioned above quality, cost, preparation, distribution, and the place of food in our lives. What do these various menu items entail? Questions regarding quality remind me of the documentary Super Size Me: A Film of Epic Portions. According to the film, the constant consumption of fast food can quickly lead one to the edge of the grave. The risks associated with vast consumption of fast food are especially disconcerting for those of lower income means. What makes it even more troubling is that fast food restaurants are more readily available to low income communities. The absence of grocery stores and farmers’ markets along with reduced access to reliable transportation, green spaces, and recreational centers exacerbate the situation in many poor communities. In places like “Portlandia” where I work, we often raise important questions about the environment in which the food we eat is produced, including cows, chickens, and the like (the hyperbolic clip “Is the chicken local?” from the show Portlandia humorously conveys this concern). Another question arises in this context: Is the treatment of animals raised for food humane? Some wonder if preoccupation with these kinds of questions is largely urbane; that is, they argue that such consideration of the environment and the treatment of animals is the preoccupation of the urbane or cultural elite; however, might it not also be the case that well-funded groups representing corporations that have much to lose if society goes organic are the ones who are at times making the charge? Some of those who have contributed to this issue of the journal contend that going organic is not a luxury but a necessity for humans, and of critical import for the well-being of the creation as a whole. In the midst of the debate over elitism, we must make sure not to lose focus on local, grassroots concerns. In this context, one might ask: whether or not 1