Does food – and the methods of its production and consumption – have a bearing on what it means to be a Christian?
Norman Wirzba certainly thinks so. The research professor of theology, ecology, and rural life at Duke Divinity School and occasional contributor to our blog, shared his views during an episode of Office Hours, an online webcast offered by the Duke Office of News and Communications.
Norman asserts that “Human beings don’t just eat to live; we eat to do a lot else, including living together in particular sorts of ways. Through eating we can express values about what we think is important.” He talks about how through the process of eating, we experience the concept of sharing and creating community. In effect, the way we eat says a lot about the type of people we want to be.
In answering questions from viewers, Norman also touched on a lot of hot-button topics related to sustainable agriculture. One that spoke to me was how churches can tackle the common complaint that buying sustainably-produced food isn’t practical in many areas because it either costs too much or is difficult to access. He advises that churches fill this gap by becoming actively involved in local food production. This has the triple benefit of helping to feed local residents, aid in the congregation’s spiritual formation, and reduce the amount of chemicals the church must use to maintain the landscaping they’d otherwise use.
If you’re interested in reading more of Norman’s writing, here are a few of his other posts:
Let’s Eat In 
Learning to Eat 
Reconciling Yourself to Food 
Clergy Health Initiative