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.
Boxes full of chicks and bees arrive by mail in this chapter. Lilly, Kingsolver’s youngest girl, was late to school the day they arrived. The secretary needed an excuse. Lilly said, quite proudly, “I had to start my own chicken business this morning.” The secretary replied without hesitation, “Oh, okay, farming” And put down the code which stood for, “Excused. Agriculture.” I laughed when I read this. In today’s world there are fewer and fewer rural areas that are populated, especially with the lessening of small family farms. So this excuse is quintessentially priceless and quite beautiful in and of itself.
The intimacy of a third grader coming in late to school after waiting for her flock of chicks to arrive (which she’d spent months planning and waiting for) stands in stark contrast to Concentrated Animal Factory Operations (CAFO’s), which are also introduced to us in this chapter. We realize that compassion, clean water and public health are all at risk if we continue to support these types of operations. Our heritage and the variety of farm animals we once consumed are all at stake. As many as 98% of chickens we buy in grocery stores are raised in CAFO’s. As Kingsolver challenges us, “You can leave the killing to others and pretend it never happened, or you can look it in the eye and know it. I would never presume to make that call for anyone else, but for ourselves we’d settled on a strategy of giving our food a good life until it was good on the table.”
1) I experienced frustration, confusion, and disbelief while reading this chapter. Did you experience any similar emotions? How willing are you to “vote with your fork?”
2) If each of us had a “Meatless Monday” (where we had a vegetarian dish) on Monday nights, we can improve our health, reduce our carbon footprint and lead the world in the race to reduce climate change. How many of you are already doing this? Who wants to commit to give it a go for next Monday? Visit http://www.meatlessmonday.com/ for recipes and more articles on this topic.
–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.