The Ethics of Food, Farming and Community
from a Vincentian perspective
Why is this a moral issue?
What are the issues?
There is a long chain of events between the field and the fork, and we must consider where our food comes from and how it interconnects with social and environmental issues. How is our food produced? How are the workers treated? Are the animals viewed as God’s creatures? Is the soil, water, and air cared for with a sense of reverence? Is the work of the farmer valued by our society and economy? When we think about food in this way, we see that eating is a moral act.
The many food issues include:
- Justice for family farmers
- Justice for agricultural workers
- Consumption and sustainable development
- Health impacts of pesticides
- Health impacts of genetically modified crops
- Land use and property rights
- Water supply and cleanliness
- Climate change impact, and more.
What is the Vincentian Family doing to help?
What can we do to take action?
Sisters of Providence of SVdP
Daughters of Charity
St. Vincent de Paul Society
Grow a Row : Backyard Farmer (Portland, OR)
Panama Farm Project (Galveston-Houston, TX)
Ozanam Farm in Zambia (Council of Ireland)
Voice of the Poor : on Migrant Workers in Florida (pdf file)
What do our founders have to say?
St. Vincent de Paul grew up in a family of peasant farmers, and attacked many problems from a viewpoint of farm wisdom:
- He bought, sold, rented, and ran his own farms to raise funds
- He handed out farming tools and seeds in famine sectors to insure the next crop
- The son of a peasant, he knew the value of money more so than his contemporaries such as Berulle or Frances de Chantal, who had come from the higher middle class. Read more at: Vincent’s Real Estate
St. Louise sent the Daughters of Charity into farm fields to teach the children who were needed to work on the farm.
What does our Church have to say?
Catholic Statements on Environmental Justice
US Conference of Catholic Bishops on Caring for God’s Creation
Catholic Perspectives on Food and Agriculture
Environmental Groups in the Catholic Community
Catholic Buildings, Grounds, Operations and the Environment
National Catholic Rural Life Conference
Pope Benedict XVI Stresses Need for Sustainable Agriculture
Let us together, all of us, save humanity! It is up to the leaders of societies to safeguard the human race, ensuring that science is at the service of the human person, that people are never objects to be manipulated or to be bought and sold, that laws are never determined by commercial interests or by the selfish claims of minority groups. Every age of human history has seen humanity tempted to inhabit a self-enclosed world in an attitude of self-sufficiency, domination, power and pride. But in our own time this danger has become still greater in man’s heart, as people believe that through the efforts of science they can become the masters of nature and of history…If people upset the balance of creation, forgetting that they are responsible for their brothers and sisters, and do not care for the environment which the Creator has placed in their hands, then a world determined by our designs alone could well become un-liveable.
- Pope John Paul II – VATICAN CITY, JAN. 14, 2001
The Great Work, now as we move into a new millennium, is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner…The human venture depends absolutely on this quality of awe and reverence and joy in the Earth and all that lives and grows upon the Earth. As soon as we isolate ourselves from these currents of life and from the profound mood that these engender within us, then our basic life-satisfactions are diminished. None of our machine-made products, none of our computer-based achievements can evoke that total commitment to life.
- Fr. Thomas Berry, in The Great Work: Our Way into the Future
Photos from Sisters Hill Farm