Thank you for joining the Partners in Health and Wholeness Book Club. You can officially sign-up here. Through it, we hope to engage people of faith in discussions over why our health matters. Our current choice of reading is “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life,” by Barbara Kingsolver. We are posting updates through the PHW Facebook page, but our PHW blog page has the discussion posts in full with responses from staff. Just look for the apple on top of the book picture among the blog post pictures and you will find past Book Club entries.
In this chapter we are brought through a trip down memory lane. Kingsolver shares her memories of growing up on a tobacco farm and how it changed throughout the years. There was a time when communal life was formed around tobacco — it was even what set the date for high school graduations. It is a major contrast to now, a time when we realize the dangers of tobacco and the diseases and cancers it has caused. She points out that, “even though the argument now is totally against tobacco, what about the farmers?” She emphasizes tobacco farms, since that is her heritage, but her point applies more broadly. As a society we have moved away from a life that revolves around the land to foolishly believing we can do without it and can exploit it for our own benefit. Small farms, such as Kingsolver’s childhood farm, have made way for the growing business in today’s society — agribusiness. The hills and lands of the small farms have hidden stories that are being forgotten because of the emergence of factory farming.
She shares some of the secret delights of the farm, ones that can only come with an intimate knowledge of and connection to the land. She and her family are intentionally standing against the standard ways of food production, and standing for something that she fears is on the brink of being lost. Through the food they eat, her family is showing that they value stewardship of the land, heritage and heirloom breeds, a sacred connection with the earth, and the personal knowledge of where and how our food is produced.
As I think back to Jeremiah 2:7, “And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.” I can’t help but feel convicted of my own disconnect. God has given us this Earth to care for and partake in its fruits. I realize that more and more we are called to care for the Earth. It is not meant for disposal. Instead of taking time to answer questions, I ask that you take a moment and pray and lament over our disconnect from the earth and what that disconnect looks like for you. Meditate, reflect, or go to God in prayer for wisdom, guidance, and for future generations.
–Amelia Brady, PHW Regional Assistant
Partners in Health and Wholeness is an initiative of the North Carolina Council of Churches. PHW aims to connect health as a faith issue. Please visit our website to sign your personal pledge to be healthier, and to find out about grant opportunities for places of worship in NC.