Can You Give Up Bananas?

We made our weekly trek to The Food Project in Lincoln, MA Tuesday to pick up the produce.  Licoln, MA is about a 30 minute drive from where we live in Leominster.  That may seem to be quite a trip for produce, but considering the items on an average American dinner plate travel over 1,500 miles to get onto that plate.  The 60 miles round trip for my produce hardly seems like more than a walk to the market.  Tina and I could have joined a CSA closer to home, but it wouldn’t have been guaranteed organic and we thought that was important.  Since we have business and appointments out Boston way once a week or so anyway, we just try to schedule them on a Tuesday or Thursday so we don’t do extra driving.

Less than 100 years ago just about every single human being on the planet and every human being in history ate what they grew or what was grown and raised around them or even by them.  Now, just three generations  living on what you grow or raise yourself or what you procure only locally has a special name.  Locavorism.  This isn’t something new, however, it’s something old.  (see/listen to interview with Barbara Kingsolver on Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippet)

Gas is going past $4 a gallon and instead of talking about transitioning to renewable energy, the President is talking about opening up more sources of oil – off the coast under water and in the Alaskan wilderness.  My solution is to not eat bananas.  How much fossil fuel is used moving bananas to Massachusetts (or even Texas?) in the trucks and boats it takes to get them here and to power the refrigeration systems to keep them from spoiling?

Is there an ethics to eating? Yes, I think there is.  Is there a way to eat religiously? Yes there is.  If you know anyone who keeps Kosher, you may have some experience with it. And anyone who eats religiously knows it’s not easy.  The world doesn’t accommodate your diet.  Yet, if you eat religiously because you are keeping Kosher, it much more generally accepted, I think, (I can be corrected) to decline pork, or invitations out for religious reasons.  It’s harder to explain when you are endeavoring to eat locally, “Are those berries from around here?” “Is that a Texan orange?”  You just sound weird.

Part of it is that we have so turned food into a commodity, that we have lost touch with the raising, harvesting, preparing and sharing of food as nourishment and, dare I say it, as sacrament.  Even our vegetables are junk food to a certain extent. There are no such things are “baby” carrots – they are bigger carrots, peeled and shaved down to look nice and for easy consumption.

I’m having a hard time with mangoes.  I really like mangoes.  And apples are native to central New England, I don’t know how many native apples you get in Texas.  I’m neither perfect nor dogmatic with this, but I think it imperative in the midst of a global climate crisis and global food and water crisis to develop an ethics of food and eating.  One of the questions that came out of a ministers’ study group I attended this past spring, was “what would a UU kashrut look like?”  I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  What would it take to be a “kosher” UU?  What, if we really think about it, do our Unitarian Universalist principles and purposes call us to as far as, well, dinner is concerned? Would I have to give up bananas? I think so.  And I’m trying. But I’m going to miss mangoes.


Tina in the Tea Garden
Tina in the Tea Garden
The fields at the Food Project in Lincoln, MA
The fields at the Food Project in Lincoln, MA

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