Faith and our Food Future

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Deborah Hill
Food & Faith Convening

Food & Faith Convening Explores How Faith-based Communities Can Tackle Food Problems

Leaders in Christian, Muslim, Jewish and First Nations faith traditions are gathering in Durham this week to explore a common question: how can people of faith and their communities engage with food and agricultural systems as crucial to their faith practice?

Duke’s World Food Policy Center (WFPC) is gathering this group of leaders in the belief that faith communities have unique gifts to offer food policy conversations. Collectively, the convening will explore topics such as Food, Faith, Land and Sustainable Agriculture; Food, Faith and Race; and Food, Faith, Food Sovereignty, and Economic Empowerment.

“Our goal for this convening is to foster relationships between and among scholars and practitioners across religious, racial, geographic and socio-economic lines,” said Kelly Brownell, director of the World Food Policy Center. “This is an impressive group of scholars, faith leaders, agripreneurs, and activists. Together we will look at the state of the food and faith field, and envision new paths forward to improve the food system.”

The phrase food system encompasses all of the activities involved in the production, processing, transport, and consumption of food. Foods systems exist at multiple scales—locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Such systems overlap, interconnect, and don’t serve everyone equally—globally, one in nine people are undernourished. It is a Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations to achieve an end to hunger by the year 2030. Learn more about hunger in the U.S.

Religious texts from many different faiths provide context for how to value and engage with food and agriculture, and faith communities are central to many people’s lives, explains Duke philosopher and agrarian theologian Norman Wirzba. “Religious traditions often have some really valuable things to say, not just about the value and sanctity of life, but also as a way of thinking about what life is for or more directly what eating is for,” he explains. “Is eating just about fueling a body or is eating about something like creating a world that will be more beautiful, more fertile, and maybe also more delicious.”

Outcomes of the event will include podcasts with individual faith leaders, and videos featuring theological, spiritual and ethical grounding perspectives for the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and First Nations faith traditions.

“In addition, we hope that this diverse group of faith leaders will collectively chart what we are calling the next most faithful action steps that faith-based communities can collectively take to improve their local, regional, national and even international food systems,” said Alex Treyz, M.Div/MPP ’17, Food & Faith Research Associate at the World Food Policy Center, and lead organizer for the convening event.

The Food & Faith Convening is being co-sponsored by the Duke World Food Policy Center, the Duke Divinity School, and The Duke Endowment.

Curious about Agrarian Theology?

Does faith shape your relationship to food? Should we be more spiritually connected to our food and how it is produced? Explore these ideas and more with Duke philosopher and agrarian theologist Norman Wirzba on the Leading Voices in Food podcast series.