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Eco Church - Carbon Sandwiches

This morning I listened to an interview on the radio about a new book on food. It wasn’t about recipes or cooking. It was about the climate impact of the food we eat and the author was, excitingly, an astrophysicist (Sarah Bridle Food and Climate Change without the Hot Air). I listened with interest but began to mop my brow half way through when it seemed she was asking us to count the carbon generated for our sandwiches.

But just as we have learnt to recognise the difference in vitamins between an orange and a banana, and the difference in calories between a cream cake and a cake without the cream, we can appreciate that some foods lay a greater burden on the planet than others. Low carbon consumption broadly comes down to eating less meat and avoiding air freighted food, as well as eating seasonally and locally.

However, the statistic that really stood out for me was this: a quarter of all greenhouse gases comes from food production. So addressing global warming is not all about green energy then. A second statistic, equally arresting, is that food waste accounts for a significant proportion of our emissions. I hadn’t thought about food waste being damagingly methane-producing, like the poor innocent cow, quite apart from the more obvious production costs. And apparently, half of that food waste is from households - in other words, is down to us.

If we are half the problem, we can be half the solution as well. Which is perhaps another reason to be grateful for lockdown where we have shopped less and been inclined to waste less.

As Christians, we know that food is a gift and not a commodity. We pray as Jesus taught us, ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ acknowledging our dependence on God’s generous and constant provision.

Jesus said: ‘Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink… is not life more important than food?’ (Matt 6:25). And Paul reminds us: ‘‘For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’ (Rom 14:17).

This doesn't mean we shouldn’t care about food - we have to put it on the table after all. It is about our priorities. And our perspective. Jesus goes on to say in this passage in Matthew: ‘Seek first (the Father’s) kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’

Being part of God’s kingdom leads us to care how we live - including how we eat.

Carolyn Scriven

14th August 2020

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