January 3, 2011
NOTE: Faith in Food has just created a new website. Link here.
Sustainable food and farming are the subjects of a workshop for religious leaders in New Delhi this week organised by the UK-based Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC).
The Delhi workshop – at WWF-India on Monday January 3, 2011 – is part of ARC’s Faith in Food project, a global initiative aimed at inspiring faith communities to link how and what they eat to their beliefs and values about caring for the Earth.
Attending the Delhi workshop will be leading environmental champion Dr Vandana Shiva, renowned for her work to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources (especially native seeds) and her promotion of organic farming and fair trade products.
Among the attendees were:
- Ravneet Pal Singh, India Project Manager of the Sikh environmental organisation EcoSikh;
- Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, ex-President, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, and chief editor of The Milli Gazette;
- Farida Vahedi, Director of External Affairs, National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of India;
- R. Christopher Rajkumar, Executive Secretary of the National Council of Churches’ Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation,
- Arshinder Kaur of the Women’s Earth Alliance;
- Syed Zafar Mahmood, President of the Zakat Foundation of India;
- Gauranga Darshan Das and Krishna Caitanya Das of Govardhan Eco-Village (International Society for Krishna Consciousness – ISKCON);
- Nayani Nasa of Kisan Swaraj Yatra;
- Mr Justice K Sukumaran of Sree Narayana Global Mission;
- Rev Jobby John and Anish Mathews of the Church of South India;
- Samuel Jeyakumar of the National Council of Churches;
- Antony Arulraj of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s Office for Justice and Peace;
- and representatives of Food For Life Vrindavan and the office of His Holiness Chinna Jeer Swamy.
Faith in Food
ARC’s new Faith in Food initiative helps faith groups to develop sustainable food and farming policies that honour their teachings about caring for creation, however they perceive that to be.
ARC Director Martin Palmer said: “Every faith celebrates food as a gift from the divine. Every faith also knows that the just distribution of the produce of the earth is a pre-requisite for a just society. This is why they all have harvest festivals, and why they all teach about food – whether it is about what you eat, what you give up eating, and what you share.
“Now we want to help the faiths to restore a sense of the sacred in food into every day life. When believers ensure our food is sustainable, good to the earth, socially just and, of course, healthy, then we will have awakened the largest consumer revolution in history,” he added.
“It is a consumer revolution that is values-led, spiritually-based and could be critical in helping save life on earth – and not just human life.”
Faith in Food coordinator Susie Weldon said Faith in Food was about faith communities recognising that eating is a moral and spiritual act that affects all life on earth. “Our choices around what and how we eat are some of the most powerful we have in terms of their impact on the environment, our fellow citizens and other living creatures,” she said.
“Agriculture has a huge role to play in terms of land degradation, water pollution, loss of biodiversity and carbon emissions. At the same time one billion people in the world do not have enough to eat.
“If we all ate planet-friendly food – food that is healthy, sustainable, fairly traded and kind to the Earth and to animals – that would have a huge impact, not only on the environment and on climate change but also on human wellbeing.”
ARC works with the faiths because religions have a great deal of influence, she said: “Around 85 per cent of the world’s population belongs to a faith and faiths own 7-8 per cent of the habitable land surface of the planet1. Faiths are also involved in half of all schools worldwide and, of course, faiths run places of worship, retreat centres, restaurants and hospitals and even farms.”
“All this means they are involved in providing food every day. For example Sikh gurdwaras feed around 30 million people a day, regardless of their faith,” she added.
To learn about the Alliance of Religion and Conservation’s Faith and Food Event click here.