Since November, a group of us has been exploring “Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics, and Sustainability,” a program designed by Northwest Earth Institute. We examine “our roles not only as consumers of food,” the course book explains, “but also as creators – of food, of systems, and of the world we live in.”
Reverend Susan Gilpin and Lois Howlett lead each session, which includes a guided meditation, a discussion of readings and personal experiences, and a prayer. At the end, each of us commits to taking one action before the following session.
Readings have inspired conversations about a variety of topics. In “The Indignity of Industrial Tomatoes,” Barry Estabrook describes seeing tomatoes flying out of a tractor trailer on a Florida highway. Stopping to investigate, he is amazed that while some of these green tomatoes are cracked, not one is smashed. Between this image of rock hard tomatoes and the mistreatment of people working in the tomato fields, we agreed to buy Maine-grown tomatoes. If we can’t wait for a juicy summer tomato from our garden or farmer’s market, we have local options, Olivia’s Garden in New Gloucester or Backyard Farms in Madison.
Our actions have led to some interesting discoveries. One person was dismayed to find chemicals listed among the ingredients in some ice cream; others asked employees at Hannaford and Trader Joe’s where their seafood comes from, a question workers couldn’t always answer; a few committed to cooking an unfamiliar vegetable like kale and liked it. For snacks, we sampled kale chips, cinnamon-sprinkled local apples, and sustainably harvested dark chocolate.
Damon Harmon was inspired to keep a food journal to track the source of the food he and his family consumed during the course of one week in November:
You are all invited to hear a Harpswell lobstering family talk with us about making a living fishing in Maine. Chef David Gooch will prepare and serve shrimp appetizers to spice up the evening. Our speaker will be Monique Coombs of Lobsters on the Fly, along with her husband if he is not out shrimping. Monique is also vice-president of the Eat Local Foods Coalition of Maine. The group will gather here at church between the kitchen and the library on Monday, January 30 at 7 p.m. Snow Date: February 6.