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I recently read a post on the Gospel Coalition website called “Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?”
The information and thoughts shared in the article have been churning around in my mind since I read it. I thought I’d share a few excerpts from the article in hopes that it leads you to read it in its entirety.
The following is an excerpt from “Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?“:
In this age of globalization, most of us are far removed from the source of our food. As a result, when we think about where our food comes from, we picture grocery stores, not farms. We interact with cashiers, not growers.
But where did we get the idea that our food should be as cheap as possible? Do we not know that, when food is cheap to us, it is costly to someone else? Regular baking cocoa is cheaper than its fair trade equivalent, at least in part, because only a tiny portion of its profits goes to its growers. They are paid such pitiful wages that they have little freedom to advance beyond their circumstances. That’s often the cost of our cheap food.
For Christians, of course, the question is not, “Is it costly to do the right thing—to do justice and love mercy?” (Micah 6:8). We know that answer is “yes.” For Jesus tells us that the cost of discipleship is high (Luke 14:25-33). The question for us is, “Will the cost be worth it?” That is, “If we commit ourselves to ethical food sourcing, will the higher prices we pay be worth it?”
Since bakers use eggs, another issue to consider is the ethical treatment of animals. In the United States, 452 million hens are used for their eggs, and almost all of these “laying hens” live in total confinement their entire lives. Since chickens become aggressive when confined, they are usually de-beaked to prevent cannibalism.
It wasn’t too long ago, of course, that many of our relatives interacted with chickens on a daily basis. Now, though, what’s out of sight is out of mind. We don’t care about chickens because we don’t know any chickens. We’d never, though, treat our pets the way that we allow chickens to be treated. And we couldn’t treat our chickens with such disdain if they lived in our backyards and we depended on their health for eggs, meat, and more chickens. After all, Proverbs 12:10 tells us, “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast.”
What can we do? In short, Christians seeking to integrate their faith and work can be informed. We can take the ethical treatment of animals seriously. For God has made us caretakers and stewards of their welfare. That may mean that we never buy eggs from an industrialized farm. Or it may mean that we go to work for a major corporation that produces eggs in an unethical manner and try to effect change from the inside out. In the end, we have to follow our consciences and be aware of the options available to us as consumers and bakers.
In short, I was convicted of my comfortable ignorance. Out of sight, out of mind. Except, the problem with complacency is that the injustices that are a result of the food industry are not out of God’s sight. I don’t want to contribute to the child labor force that employs the cocoa fields. I don’t want to increase the profits of chicken coups that practically torture chickens their whole lives. Yes, there is a cost to buying local, organic, or fair trade. But I am realizing that when I don’t, there is a cost to someone else. I’m not perfect in this but I do want to continue to take small steps in the right direction.
Take a chance to read the original post. There was a lot more great information and challenging thoughts that I couldn’t include.