Yesterday, Day 2, was such an intense day that I had nothing left when I got back to my hotel – it was time for sleep! So I’ll still keep the days separate; another blog post will follow this one.
Lots and lots of workshops on Day 2! Amazing topics from people from all over the US. My favorite workshop of the weekend was called “Waste Less Food in Your Congregation” – I attended because this topic has held me captive since I read that 40% – FORTY PERCENT – of edible food in the United States is thrown away.
I have grown my own food – both produce and meat. I’m deeply aware of the problem of food insecurity and hunger in the US and around the world. And I am the adopted child of parents who lived through the Depression. In my house growing up, wasting food was only a forgivable sin because Jesus.
My parents weren’t socialists, per se, but they operated in a world in which considering the greater good and honorable behavior was automatic. Don’t take more food than you can eat – that deprives others. Leftovers are yummy. Bring home the rest of your meal from the restaurant – not for the dog, for YOU!
At least four of us in the group admitted to “refrigerator obsession” – every time we open the fridge we are bothered anew about the food there. We are making meals in our minds to make sure the food gets used before it goes bad.
One of the presenters remarked that we generally have “aspirational” relationships with food. We’re going to eat better. Buy at the farmer’s market. Not throw out half the salad greens (again).
In the workshop we talked about these issues and more. One of the presenters worked for the City of San Francisco and the food banks come under her purview. She helped dispel some misunderstandings about trash v. compost v. recycling. For example: I assumed that if I did have to throw out produce, that it could go in general trash if my community doesn’t have curbside composting. This is indeed true – but because it will decompose without oxygen in a landfill, it will produce methane gas, which is the main greenhouse has contributing to global warming. So what’s the solution? Reduce the front end consumption – only buy what I can use. We also heard about the domino effect that food waste has on the planet, from planting of seeds to dealing with landfills. We can do better.
One really hopeful note in this workshop was the sharing by many present of the ways their communities re-route food that would otherwise be tossed. San Francisco has a type of gleaning system, coordinated through the SF Food Bank, that received produce from many sources. There is also a nonprofit called Food Runners, where volunteers pick up leftover food from restaurants and institutions that can then be served to other folks. I experienced this at TACO in San Diego (Third Avenue Charitable Organization) – some items in the meals they offer are donations from places like Panera Bread, Starbucks, and the like.
One of the themes at this conference was that we need one another to lean on as we engage in this challenging and sometimes painful work. Forming relationships and networks by this kind of sharing renders benefits for the all the places we serve. And it reminds us that the people of God really ARE better together.