Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
The Episcopal Church »  |  The Diocese of Virginia

Educating People of Faith: Personal Choices, Agricultural Sustainability and the 21st Century Challenge of World Hunger

In the 2010 Decennial Census, fewer than 2 percent of Virginians in the labor force worked on farms. Every Virginian eats.

While every Virginian eats, some often go hungry. Still more eat poorly: some out of habit, some for lack of resources, and others for lack of choice – all at detriment to their health. Further, the choices available are affected by local farming conditions and productivity, by globalization, and by the effects of farm policy.

Worldwide, as many as one billion went hungry in 2009. The future challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly stark as its populations continue to grow and current methods of agricultural production fail to meet needs.  By mid-Century, the United Nations projects the population of Sub-Saharan Africa to increase by 120 percent, by another 1.2 billion people.

How we eat, the land that is farmed, what is grown, how our food is cultivated or raised, and where it comes from affect public health, our well-being, the vitality of our soils, the health of our streams and rivers, the energy we consume and its sources, the world food supply, and the future of the planet as we know it.

Some of these choices are personal decisions amenable to mindful change, choices in what to buy, in what to grow, and in how much to eat. Others are intended and unintended consequences of public policy and market functioning that affect the interests of all, but are closely monitored by relatively few.

The Stewardship of Creation Committee’s 2012 Conference on food and agriculture explored these issues from multiple viewpoints with particular attention to how through our personal choices and through greater mindfulness of broader issues we as people of faith may develop greater resources for stewardship of the earth. Speakers at the Conference included experts in public policy, organic farming, preservation of agricultural land, water and energy resources, sustainable livestock production, and the challenges and opportunities to alleviate global food insecurity, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.