Contact Person: Lalla Carothers
Name of Institution: Congregational Church in Cumberland
Phone Number: 207-829-3419
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website URL: http://cumberlandgreenteam.portal501.com/
Hungry For Change
Since November, the Green Team at the Congregational Church in Cumberland hosted Northwest Earth Institute’s Hungry For Change: Food, Ethics, and Sustainability, a course exploring where our food comes from and the environmental and human impacts of our food choices. We examined “our roles not only as consumers of food,” as the course book explains, “but also as creators – of food, of systems, and of the world we live in.” http://www.nwei.org/
Rev Susan Gilpin (UCC) and Lois Howlett facilitated each session, which included a guided meditation, a discussion of readings and personal experiences, and a prayer. Each of us committed to taking one action before the following week.
Readings 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 led to interesting discoveries. Many of us were surprised and dismayed to find chemicals listed among the ingredients in some ice cream; Eric Blanchard and Kerry Whitaker asked employees at local grocery stores where their seafood comes from, a question workers couldn’t always answer; Damon Harmon kept a journal of where his food comes from and discovered the original source wasn’t always on the label; Lois and Susan committed to cooking an unfamiliar vegetable – and liked it. For snacks, we sampled kale chips, cinnamon-sprinkled local apples, and sustainably produced dark chocolate.
A final highlight of the course celebrated Maine fishing. Participants feasted on three of chef David Gooch’s tender Maine shrimp dishes: popcorn shrimp, miso soup, and quiche.
Monique and Chef David Maestro at work
Kerry and Susan sampling shrimp miso soup
Monique Coombs, owner of “Lobsters on the Fly” in Harpswell and vice-president of the Eat Local Foods Coalition of Maine, came to talk about making a living shrimping and lobstering here. As she described the challenges and satisfaction of working on the sea, she urged us to buy local Maine seafood, for economic and environmental reasons. Maine fishermen take care of their resource.
Monique leads discussion about fishing in Maine
At the end of the presentation, Rev Susan said, “I didn’t realize pollock turned white when cooked.” Carol Beyna, Green Team member, said, “I didn’t know shrimp were drag caught and trap caught.” Her husband Ron pointed out, “Because of the state regulations that govern how, what, and where fish are caught, the consumer can’t go wrong when buying fish harvested from Maine waters.”
“From now on,” said Kerry, “I commit to asking where my seafood comes from and buying only Maine seafood.” Each of us left the course with a greater understanding of “our roles as consumers of food,” and an increased sense of empowerment “as creators – of food, of systems, and of the world we live in.”
On Saturday, March 24th from 5-8pm, the Church will screen two films about food: Meet Your Farmer, a documentary of different Maine farmers sharing the challenges and joys of raising food, and Fishing Voices: Into the Future, a short film exploring “eastern Maine fishing communities as they struggle to adapt and survive while preserving their proud fishing traditions.” Produced by Cecily Pingree and Jason Mann, both films share the voices and stories of people who provide our food. A panel of Maine food producers will speak and take questions after the films.
These events are part of an ongoing effort by the Congregational Church in Cumberland to earn GreenFaith certification. The two year GreenFaith Certification Program helps turn houses of worship into environmental leaders. GreenFaith participants incorporate their commitment to environmental stewardship into all aspects of their faith communities, including worship services, education, energy conservation, and outreach to the larger community. For more about GreenFaith, see www.greenfaith.org. or contact GreenFaith Certification Program Director Stacey Kennealy at email@example.com or 732-565-7740, ext. 303.