Faith groups challenged to change attitudes to food

A new global initiative is seeking to change attitudes among faith communities to the way in which food is produced, purchased and consumed.

Faith in Food has been launched worldwide by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) to help faith communities think about what they eat and how it connects to their values and beliefs. It is encouraging faith communities to become part of a global movement for a fairer, healthier and more sustainable food system.

The initiative takes the approach that eating is a moral and spiritual act that affects all life on earth. It is being supported by major secular and faith-based bodies, including the WWF, the World Bank, the Fairtrade Foundation and the Soil Association.

Together they will help faith communities develop policies to ensure that the food they purchase, produce or provide – for example in celebrations, schools and cafes, and retreat and conference centres – honours their beliefs about caring for the planet and the environment.

Palmer said he wanted the initiative to restore a sense of the sacred in food and for faith communities to promote positive values in relation to food.

Martin Palmer, director of the UK-based ARC, said: “This way, together we can start transforming the world – one meal at a time.”

With as much as 30 per cent of an individual’s carbon footprint coming from their food, Palmer said that choosing planet-friendly food was the most important way that people could reduce their environmental impact.

“Every faith celebrates food as a gift of God, or the gods. Every faith knows that the just distribution of the produce of the earth is a pre-requisite for a just society. This is why they all have harvest festivals. Now it is time for the spiritual insights, which have become a little trapped in ritual, to shape the everyday lives of billions of the faithful worldwide, and especially in the USA,” said Palmer.

“When we as believers ensure our food is sustainable, good to the earth, socially just and, of course, delicious, then we will have awakened the largest consumer revolution in history. One that is values led, spiritually based and could be critical in helping save life on earth – and not just human life.”