Dear Christians in America–
Growing up I lived in rural Texas and worshiped in church. Today rural America and people all over the country are in crisis and I write today due to this great burden on my heart. Many of our children and young adults are ill due to poor nutrition (which is different from malnutrition). According to recent medical reports 2/3 of Americans are obese. From a Biblical standpoint our commercialized food production system is wrong. How can I make such a claim? Firstly, I am a former farmer who has farmed both conventionally and organically. Secondly, I am a permaculturist (social and ecological systems design) and study the relationships between water, soil, air and life. Thirdly, because the Bible says so, and it is my intention to prove that in this letter.
In Genesis chapter 1, God proclaims his creation to be ‘Good’. Yet, modern conventional farming methods, those using huge machines on chemically sprayed, mono-cropped fields, completely destroy that ‘Good’ soil. For instance, crop varieties used in commercial wheat, soybean, corn, and rice farming are almost all Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) created by splicing genes into the plants DNA from completely unrelated sources (for example taking an animal’s DNA and inserting into a plant). This gene splicing creates a unique species that can infect the fields of other farmers (who then get sued by companies like Monsanto). Additionally, these GMO crops require more chemical herbicides than standard crops, which further poisons the water, the soil, and PEOPLE. Is this really how we are called to treat God’s ‘Good Earth’? Dominion means “stewardship of” not “right to destroy”.
Matthew 7:16 reminds us that “by their fruits they will be known”. The fruits of modern agribusiness are putrid and foul. Amongst those fruits are: the destruction of entire watersheds from polluting chemicals and the manure from Confinement Feeding Operations (CAFOs are feedlots and industrial chicken houses), forcing family farms out of business, experimenting on the American public with GMO crops without their input, putting animals into horrific living situations and shooting them up with chemicals, poisonous additives in our foods, and a nationwide health crisis, just to name a few. All of this is done in the name of MAXIMUM PROFIT. 1 Timothy 6:10 reminds us that the love of money is the root of all evil. We have a choice and must make new ones!
The Bible also speaks about our personal health and wellness. The body is a temple according to the apostle Paul ( 1 Corinthians 3:16) and we are created in the image of God, so why are we allowing ourselves to be poisoned? Why do we drink sodas which cause diabetes, demineralize bones, and have zero redeeming health benefits? Those sodas are made by companies known for willfully depleting local water sources and for terrorizing employees who fight for better working conditions. Similarly, American fast food companies routinely put harmful chemicals in their products. Their products have little in the way of actual REAL FOOD value. The production of all those burgers and chicken wings has lead to massive deforestation of the planet’s largest rain forest (which are the LUNGS of the Earth). Without those trees we cannot survive as we all should have learned in elementary school science classes. Cutting those trees down to eat more Big Macs from McDevil’s or buckets of Colonel Buzzard from KFC negatively AFFECTS BILLIONS of people. Billions.
The Bible also proclaims moderation and self control (Galatians 5) are virtues. Contrast that with every advertising campaign out there asking you and your family to EAT, EAT, EAT or DRINK, DRINK, DRINK, more, more, more of the poisonous products they are marketing to you. They attempt to hook you on a FEELING and then the next thing you know you want another soda, another supper in a sack, another belt busting, heart attack inducing fry fest because, “you can’t eat just one”, you can “eat great, even late”, “have a burger for breakfast”, or the sickening “Fourth Meal” campaign put on by Toxic Hell (I mean Taco Bell). Those restaurants cater to families and they are literally poisoning and ADDICTING you and your kids with EVERY meal. Somehow, I cannot see that as part of God’s plan for anyone.
Much of this junk food comes in single use packaging and thus clogs our land fills which then leach their toxic soups into the watershed where we live and get our water. Even if the packaging is recyclable many people simply refuse to do so, some cannot because of where they live, and some feel a bit better about themselves by tossing it in the proper bin. The problem is that it takes ENORMOUS amounts of energy to recycle it into something useful and the trees that are cut to make burger wrappers would better serve us as standing timber (hopefully in a bio-diverse forest).
Christian farmers need to take a stand. Refuse to dump chemicals on the land God created because using them harms other people as well as the land which gives us food. God commanded that farmers take care of the land and let it renew itself (Exodus 23:11) not to dump life destroying poisons on it and compact it into oblivion with enormous energy sucking machines. Christian shoppers can take a stand by buying only organic foods because to do otherwise is to support companies whose dedication to profit as the highest motive are killing people and destroying the systems we ALL need to survive and thrive. For example, the suicide rates amongst farmers in India are astronomically high. Why? Because they were made to be dependent on agricultural chemicals. Those chemicals are like hard core drugs. They ALWAYS end up depleting the soil and making it completely inert. This necessitates the use of MORE and MORE chemicals (like a heroin junkie) until the farmers can no longer afford to buy them anymore allowing a bank to take over the land and then sell it to a multinational agribusiness. Indian farmers are drinking the chemicals to kill themselves. Those Indian farmers grow a lot of the cotton that ends up in our clothes. I doubt Jesus would buy them, nor eat foods produced with them, nor drink sodas designed to addict and make people ill. By their fruits they will be known…
We are blessed with free will and by mindfully using that gift we can change the face of American culture for the better using Biblical principles. We can recreate gardens of Eden and a food system that edifies and glorifies God while also ensuring that all God’s creatures have their needs met. We can spend MORE time with our families by preparing REAL food, growing it in our gardens, interacting at farmer’s markets , and modeling excellent eating habits for our children, neighbors, and community. We can educate ourselves and STOP spending our money in places that Jesus would certainly refuse to give a dime–though he’d probably go into Monsanto’s offices and overturn the tables of the money lenders (so to speak)…
Job 12:7-8 But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.
The Earth’s systems are in crisis. Soil which takes millenia to form has blown away or been killed (soil is ALIVE with billions of beneficial microbes when healthy) major watersheds are polluted and forests are clear cut. The Earth is out of balance and we are called Biblically take care of it. Our bodies are out of whack too as a result. When we take care of our body temple, the Earth that is provided for us to live on and sustain ourselves from can also thrive. Making these changes will be FAR reaching, from our own home grown gardens to the forest of South America, from the halls of Congress to the cotton fields of India our shopping and eating habits have an effect. The Bible offers a guide on how to navigate the waters of life. Let us use its wisdom rather than being duped by slick advertising and slimy politicians.
Dillon Naber Cruz