Seeds, Worms, and Stewardship

It’s summer time. There are cucumber tendrils inching their way up toward our family room window, trying to break into our house. And I’ve just gobbled up Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver–a fabulous book about Kingsolver’s family and their challenging adventure of living solely on locally grown food for 1 year. They moved to a small family farm in southern Appalachia, gardened like crazy, canned and dehydrated, and even butchered their own poutry.

I found this book really inspiring. (Disclaimer just in case my husband is reading this: I’m not suggesting that our family become total locavores! Don’t worry, no turkey heads will roll in our backyard!) I found myself thinking, over and over again, about the spiritual discipline of stewardship — how does this apply to food and eating? How does our faith relate to the way our family eats (and purchases food)?

A few new questions I’ll now be asking myself:

Did most of the food I’m buying contribute tons of pollution to the environment because it had to be shipped, trucked, and flown to me (all the while being refrigerated) from thousands of miles away?

Can I choose to support good land stewardship by buying produce from local farmers more often?

Am I really enjoying the good gift of deliciousness God intended for vegetables and fruits if what I regularly eat is out of season and days (or weeks) old?

So, we’ve been exploring this in a fun way as a family:

1. My son regularly helps with planting and weeding our modest vegetable garden. (My daughter helps by trying to eat dirt and rocks, but that’s another story.) We’ve got 2 cucumber mounds, 2 zuchini mounds, 4 tomato plants, and piles of various herbs. This doesn’t even come close to Kingsolver’s massive vegetable “garden” (i.e. farm) — but it’s fun!

2. We’ve tried to be intentional this summer about buying produce, eggs, milk, and yogurt more often from the great farmer’s market held near our home on Friday evenings. It’s such a refreshing switch from shopping at the local superstore — the chaotic competition among carts, long lines of waiting at the checkout, and a good deal of annoyance. At the farmers market my kids are on an adventure, looking at gigantic cucumbers, inching closer to the dairy cows, coming face-to-face with real farmers and even a local beekeeper! (This amazed my son who has a very adversarial relationship with bees.) Sure, it’s definitely more expensive. But Kingsolver has convinced me that it’s worth it (at least sometimes). It’s not just a choice of what’s cheaper — it’s a choice about what tastes better, and more importantly, what supports and sustains the beautiful midwest habitat God created and in which our family lives.

We’re not going to revamp our entire way of eating. But I think that just a bit at a time, our efforts to be good stewards in the area of eating can make a difference in caring for God’s creation — and in our own physical and spiritual health.

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