Process Theology and the Local Food Movement
As we move toward a post-petroleum world,
As the majority of the world now lives in cities,
As global climate change requires new ways of living.
Isn't it time that we begin to grow our own food and enjoy it!
The Answer is Yes
The majority of people in the world now live in a city, and this proportion will grow. To be sure, the long-term hope is that countrysides can flourish, too, and that urban-rural partnerships can emerge which are good for local farmers.
Nevertheless, for the sake of the long-term health of the planet, people in cities will need to begin to supply some and perhaps even most of their own food. Urban agriculture is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
Happily, as people begin to grow their food, they grow, well, happier. They begin to recover some of their own connections with food, with soil, and with the sheer joy of growing things. They begin to work together as small groups, regardless of whatever may otherwise divide them: religion and politics, for example. They watch less television, spend less time at the computer screen, and more time out of doors, discovering the joys of patience, touch, listening, and sight. There is a spirituality to growing things that is too easily forgotten in disembodied and overly-specialized urban living.
Of course, urban agriculture is not enough for long-term survival of human life, much less flourishing. In Five Foundations for a New Civilization and Ten Ideas for Saving the Planet, process theologian John Cobb offers a bigger picture. Moreover, as Pope Francis makes clear, a new kind of culture is needed, in which the tyranny of capitalism is replaced with a culture of respect and care. See The Pope is Right: Unfettered Capitalism is the New Tyranny.
Many years ago the American writer Wendell Berry made it clear: the environmental problem is not simply a crisis of technology, it is a crisis of character. We humans need to mature, to grow up, to become nurturers rather than conquerors.
But urban agriculture can and needs to play an important role in the process of maturing. It its own way it can be a kind of spiritual practice: a way of recovering felt connections with the earth which bring wholeness to mortal life.
At least this is how process theology sees things. An international, multireligious perspective -- intellectual, spiritual, and engaged -- process theologians believe that the divine reality is a Life in whose womb all life unfolds, and they believe that the well-being of life on earth, human and non-human, is the very aim of this Life. Influenced by the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, they propose that all living beings have value in and for themselves, for one another, and for the larger evolving whole, namely the divine Life. Thus, from a process perspective, the very beckoning of the divine Life -- of God -- is for humans to live with respect and care for one another and the larger community of life: that is, to live sustainably. For process theologians, it makes good sense to think of agriculture, urban and rural, as a spiritual practice in its own right: a form of meditation or prayer done alone and with others, that makes contact with the Life in whose life all life matters.
All this is very idealistic, and the skeptics inevitably ask: Can local food production be economically feasible? Rohit Kumar makes a strong case that the answer is Yes.
-- Jay McDaniel
Rohit Kumar is the Founder of the Food Reform Coalition, an organization advocating for a safer and healthier food system for people and planet. Rohit is Community Manager for the upcoming major documentary film, Generation Food, as well as a guest correspondent on Pacifica Radio's weekly broadcast, Focus on Food. He is also Co-Founder and CEO of Brush with Bamboo, an internationally distributed brand of biodegradable toothbrushes. In 2011, along with his brother, Rohit converted his family's tract suburban home into a farm and model of sustainability called The Growing Home (featured in the Los Angeles Times). Rohit is currently pursuing at J.D. at Stanford Law School. Previously, he graduated with honors from UC Berkeley, and conducted research at the University of Delhi in India.
The article by Rohit Kumar is reprinted from the Huffington Post. It was originally published June 4, 2013. Click Here. Follow Rohit on Facebook
The poster Urban Agriculture celebrates the international growth of this practice, and Milwaukee’s place within this ever-expanding international community. Urban Agriculture is a practice dedicated to the issues of food security, sustainability, as well as the greening of urban environments
Four Ways Urban Agriculture