Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Clones Approved

"A long-awaited final report from the Food and Drug Administration concludes that foods from healthy cloned animals and their offspring are as safe as those from ordinary animals, effectively removing the last U.S. regulatory barrier to the marketing of meat and milk from cloned cattle, pigs and goats." -- Washington Post
Of course, we are still not likely to see cloned meat any time soon. Cloned animals are too expensive to slaughter on a large scale, and American consumers are still squeamish about the idea of eating living replicas.

Still, it may soon be time for churches to wrestle with the idea of supporting the creation and consumption of artificial life, with the words artificial and life being open to debate. If nothing else, it's a good way to get people interested in a far less sexy but perhaps just as important discussion of being morally conscious about the food we buy.


caralynjayne said...


That's almost the only thing I can say at this point. Except I always have something to say about food...

Food is already fraught with issues for consumers in this country. The "healthfulness" of what is available at the supermarket, as well as the sustainability of how it gets there in the first place, the work conditions for all the people whose hands our foods pass through along the way, and the effects such extreme food production has on our land are all important dynamics that Christian communities can influence positively, once we know where to apply our energy (and dollars).

Michael Pollan's books and articles are making headlines in the Bay area, as well as taking up prominent space in local bookstores - he's a local author/journalist who has written extensively on food in the U.S. If anyone is interested in the food industry, he's written some very readable, fun explanations. I read The Omnivore's Dilemma while I was home for Christmas. (And then tried to ignore what I had learned in order to enjoy several aspects of my meals at home!)

Change is certainly in the air - "organic" and local food chains are more popular than ever. Awareness of the benefits to hometown economies that come from buying foods produced nearby is growing. Concern for the environment is making more than a few eyebrows raise at the sight of grocery store eighteen-wheelers delivering foods from hundreds of miles away that can be grown right here.

One legitimate concern among these positive changes and growing knowledge is of course the price of sustainably grown and distributed foods. What if you can only afford packaged foods, like macaroni and cheese?

I can't say I have a perfect answer (I'm in seminary after all, not Berkeley's graduate Economics program!) but there are lots of things faith communities can do to help those who struggle to afford groceries at all. Donating healthy foods to food banks and agencies that distribute emergency food is the most basic, and many Christians already make a habit of doing this. Creating or joining food cooperatives is also a way to create inner-city access to foods produced nearby. And the more people supporting the co-op, the lower prices can become. This also eliminates the irregularity of farmers' market hours. Don't get me wrong, I love wandering among the booths of produce, but what if the farmers' markets are during my (desperately needed) minimum-wage shift at work? Or it's not along a public transportation route?

One of the boldest things faith communities can do is take their food chain into their own hands, literally. Particularly where farmers' markets haven't picked up yet, what about starting community gardens and raising produce that can be given away? I've spent a lot of time looking at the vast lawns of suburban churches and thinking about this.

Ultimately, for the sake of our neighbors, the earth, and yes, ourselves, faith communities ought to be looking at what's on their plates. Closely. The more diverse alternatives we put into play, the stronger each community will become.

Bon Apetit!

Dave said...



Anonymous said...

"The more diverse alternatives we put into play, the stronger each community will become."

Ape tit is pretty alternative I'd say.

Bon Appetite

Clark said...

Carolynjayne's reflections are honest and important. For myself, I think growing some food in whatever space one has is an easy and satisfying way to help out everyone, and often there are fruit or vegetables left over for a foodbank. I admired the minister of our church in Pullman, who every year turned his front lawn into a cornfield.