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Faith, Food and Sustainability: Additional Resources

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Eating with Joy and Grace

Rachel Marie Stone, Eat With Joy: Redeeming God's Gift of Food (2013 Inter-Varsity Press)

Stone is the keynote speaker for the 2015 Stewardship of Creation conference. Eat With Joy considers how a spiritual approach to eating can help build a sense of community, represents a context for considering and overcoming eating disorders, and can contribute to environmental sustainability.

Michael Wirzba, Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating (2011)

An extended theologically grounded exploration of mindful eating as a means for collaborating with God’s own primordial sharing of life through the sharing of food with each other and participating in forms of life and frameworks of meaning that have their root and orientation in God’s caring ways with creation. An extended interview with Wirzba discussing many of the ideas in this book may be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvLpqfCidLU 

Experiencing Taste and Flavor

Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, The Flavor Bible (Little Brown 2008).

Organized like a dictionary, the book lists by ingredient, e.g., sweet potatoes, sub-listed ingredients that will pair well with each indexed ingredient and also common flavor affinities for the ingredient. The book is available in both hard copy and electronic forms. It includes numerous sidebar essays, an introductory essay on flavor including what is perceived by the mouth. It is a resource now considered indispensable by many professional chefs.

Barb Stuckey, Taste What You Are Missing: The Passionate Eater’s Guide to Why Good Food Tastes Good (Free Press 2012)

Barb Stuckey has written a lay introduction to the science of taste and flavor that among other things guides readers through a series of taste experiences, e.g., how salt affects perceptions of bitter and sweet, that awaken perception and help cultivate the sense of taste. The concluding summary chapter sets out her thoughts about things to do at the table and generally to savor food.

Dana Moskowitz Grumdahl, Drink This: Wine Made Simple (Ballantine 2009)

The author, a master sommelier, has organized the text around a series of wine tastings: chardonnays, sauvignon blancs, cabernets, syrahs from different regions, that provide a systematic, but unpretentious introduction to the features of the wine varieties considered and how winemaking technique and the climate and soils in different growing regions affect the character of the wines.

John McQuaid, Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat (Scribner 2015).

A smoothly written treatment of much of the same subject matter by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.  Unlike the other books mentioned, McQuaid’s treatment supports a passive, rather than experiential approach to its subject matter.

National Academies of Science, Institute of Medicine, Relationships Among the Brain, the Digestive System, and Eating Behavior: Workshop Summary (2015), htttp://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=21654

The report of a workshop reviewing recent research on the role of taste receptors in the gut in the functioning of the digestive system, the methodologies used to examine addictive features of food consumption, and the validity of the addiction model as a frame work for examining food consumption.

Sustainable Cuisine

Chefs Collaborative and Ellen Jackson, The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook: Local, Sustainable, Delicious Recipes from America’s Great Chefs (Taunton 2013)

The Chefs Collaborative was founded in early 1980s out of a belief that “flavor, healthfulness and quality of ingredients are intricately linked to the care that is shown to the environment during production.” The recipes in the book are intended to encourage home cooks to think like a sustainably minded chef. As a number of the recipes include ingredients often difficult to find in supermarkets, they are an incentive as well to garden and to shop at farmers’ markets.

Carole C. Baldwin and Julie H. Mounts, One Fish, Two Fish, Crawfish, Bluefish: The Smithsonian Sustainable Seafood Cookbook (2003)

A compilation of recipes furnished by chefs from around the United States that use fish species that are not overfished or are farmed sustainably. An introductory essay and short essays throughout discuss the issues and threats to sustainable fisheries and steps that consumers may take to help assure both sustainability and livelihoods for people employed in fisheries.

Assuring a Sustainable Future: Moral and Policy Perspectives

Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson (eds.), Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril (2010 Trinity Univ. P.)

This reader, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu, is a compilation of short essays by prominent scientists, poets, activists, ethicists and religious leaders from many faiths. The essays collectively consider environmental protection from the perspectives including our survival, our children's future, earth itself and all its forms of life, stewardship of creation and as an expression of human virtue. 

Ben A. Minteer and Stephen J. Pyne (eds.), After Preservation: Saving American Nature in the Age of Humans (2015 Chicago U.P.)

The Prayer for Conservation of Resources (BCP) recites that "in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation." This reader brings together thinking from scientists and environmental activists in a series of short essays that collectively address what our active role should be in an era when the future of creation is so wholly dependent upon human activity and our capacity for choice.

George Wuerthner, Eileen Crist, and Tom Butler (eds.), Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth (Island Press 2014)

A collection of essays selected with the aim of rebutting conceptions of the Anthropocene implying: (i) that humanity now has a role as planners and managers, as stewards; (ii) that conservation must serve human aspirations by maintaining ecosystem services; (ii) that conservation is served by better management of the domesticated landscape; and (v) that working with corporations is necessary for achieving better conservation results. Much of the thinking that the contributors seek to rebut may be found in articles published by the Breakthrough Journal, http://thebreakthrough.org/journal. The contributors are associated with the “deep ecology” movement.

Jenkins, Willis, The Future of Ethics: Sustainability, Social Justice, and Religious Creativity (2013)

Jenkins addresses climate change as a “wicked problem”, one without any perfect solution that challenges our ethical competence, specifically, that the Anthropocene Epoch challenges us to manage ourselves. He proposes an approach he characterizes as prophetic pragmatism. He contends that world views change as faiths draw on their traditions to address new problems and that reform projects point the way. A lecture on climate change and the future of Christianity at Yale University develops ideas along this line that later find a fuller development in his book may be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zYmTrOw-0k

On September 20, 2014, Jenkins spoke at the SoCC conference on "The Episcopal Church and Earth Care." A podcast of his remarks during the conference is here.

Meeting the Future Challenge of Food Insecurity: Selected Recent Reports and Articles

Paul B. Thompson, Can Agricultural Biotechnology Help the Poor? The Answer is Yes, But with Qualifications,Science Progress, June 8, 2009: http://www.scienceprogress.org/2009/06/ag-biotech-thompson/

A concise survey of arguments pro and con regarding benefits that poor farmers may derive from improvements in agricultural technology.  Contends that benefits of biotech innovations in agriculture for the rural poor must be evaluated on a case by case basis:

“It is, in fact, past time for progressives to discard simplistic thinking on agriculture in general, as if it were a domain of quaint rusticity and guileless rubes. No blanket endorsement or condemnation of biotechnology makes any sense at all. Each proposal will have to be evaluated case by case. But doing that will require a discourse that is capable of following an argument of some sophistication and complexity. And that, in turn, will require a bit more literacy in the methods, purposes, and history of agriculture and agricultural science.”

Gregory E Hitzhusen and Mary Evelyn Tucker 2013. The Potential of Religion for Earth Stewardship. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11: 368–376. http://www.esajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1890/120322

The authors contend that “Mobilizing religious believers to contribute to responsible stewardship of the Earth requires a critical appreciation of the complexity of religious traditions and the ways that religious communities view nature, as well as the cultural and spiritual resources that religious teachings provide in confronting change and human suffering.” They believe religious communities should be encouraged to forge partnerships and dialogue with scientists, economists, public policy makers and educators.

National Academy of Sciences, A New Biology for the 21st Century (2009), http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12764

The report of a committee supporting and detailing its recommendation that a new biology initiative be put in place that should be charged with finding solutions to major societal needs: sustainable food production, protection of the environment, renewable energy, and improvement in human health.  The committee’s charge was framed in part as a question of stewardship:  “How can a fundamental understanding of living systems reduce uncertainty about the future of life on earth, improve human health and welfare, and lead to the wise stewardship of our planet?”

Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations, Climate change, water and food security, FAO Water Reports 36 (2011), http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/i2096e/i2096e.pdf

Reviews implications of the reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and effects on agricultural systems with specific attention to water scarcity and competition for water.  Proposes a “no regrets” strategy for immediate steps to mitigate climate change effects.

Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations, The State of Food and Agriculture 2014: Innovation in Family Farming (2014), http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4040e.pdf

The United Nations declared 2014 to be “The Year of Family Farming.” This report considers how innovations in agriculture can produce benefits for the 842 million people considered chronically hungry in 2014 as well as for the population projected to exceed 9 billion in 2050 that will be eating more and better diets as a result of projected growth in the global middle class. The report examines the quest to find farming systems that are sustainable and inclusive and that support increased access for the poor so that the world’s future food needs are met. 

Committee on a Framework for Assessing the Health, Environmental, and Social Effects of the Food System, National Research Council, A Framework for Assessing Effects of the Food System (2015), http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18846

The report describes a framework for assessing the food system in its complexity. In describing the effects of the current food system on health, the environment, the economy and society, the report draws on published empirical reports. The Committee notes that is report considers both the positive and negative effects of the food system without making an overall value judgment, but with the aim rather of drawing attention to the trade-offs embedded in current agricultural and food system practices and the analytical challenges in assessing new policies or practices for agriculture, public health, nutrition, food safety, the environment, and quality of life.

Newsletters Covering Food Policy

Food and Environment Reporting Network, thefern.org.

FERN is an independent, investigative non-profit that sponsors reporting on food issues broadly considered including farms and labor, toxins, climate change and drought, antibiotics, nutrition and food access. Recent articles have examined the search for wild relatives of major food crops, intellectual property issues associated with breeding quinoa, native to the Altiplano, for cultivation in other climates.

Global Food for Thought, thechicagocouncil.org.

A weekly newsletter published by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The newsletter furnishes links and brief summaries of key articles and reports on food policy, including links to pairs of articles expressing opposing viewpoints, articles on the Chicago Council Blog, and a section on “Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations.” The newsletters furnish a comprehensive survey of media, institutional publications, U.S. Administration and Congressional Activities, and significant upcoming events.

Environmental Health News. EnvironmentalHealthNews.org.

The newsletter tracks issues of environmental health generally and reported in media around the globe. Links to articles on food safety, pesticides, and sustainable food production regularly appear in the newsletter.