"Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system."

~Dorothy Day

May 15, 2010

In the beginning...

The Hammill family tries to make it a practice of having "family nights" on Sundays. We play games, read (usually the Bible), and talk about our week. A few weeks ago I (Ryan) got to lead the family night. I designed the curriculum, planned the game, and directed the activities.

A couple days prior, my parents and I watched "Food, Inc" the Oscar-nominated documentary about the food system in the United States. It covered feedlots (CAFOs), fast food, and corporate abuse, among other devastating topics. Letting the credits roll without changing my lifestyle felt uncomfortable.

Fast forward to Sunday night. I had four readings: a section from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, Timothy Gardener's essay on modern meatpacking, Wendell Berry's "The Pleasures of Eating," and an excerpt from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life Together. While all the reading out loud got a bit tedious, Sinclair's description of rat feces being dumped into sausage, Gardener's expose of modern meatpackers' exploitative tactics, Wendell Berry's steps towards action, and Bonhoeffer's call for joyful meals were lost on no one.

After a racing game involving strawberries and sprinting down the narrow hall (with an injury), we sat down to discuss our next steps. The first was to subscribe to a CSA farm--community-supported agriculture. By paying a monthly fee, the consumer receives a box full of produce from the farm. Doing this is intended to move our dietary habits closer to a local farmer who isn't abusing workers, destroying the soil, and sending produce hundreds of miles away to rack up a carbon footprint. The second step was to develop a similar tie to a local meat supplier, in order to dissociate our consumption from the big meatpacking firms. The third step was for John, Christy, and me to begin cooking meals together in order to learn more about what we are eating and appreciate the work that goes into it.

The blog is the fourth step. Originally, it was going to be part of the meatpacking, in order to raise awareness about food justice. But it'd be much better to cover our entire food adventure with it.


  1. You are my hero. Have you figured out where you're going next year? If not, I've got a couple suggestions.


  2. :) Haven't contacted any farms yet so nothing is set in stone. Watchu got?

  3. Have you ever heard of Taize? It is an ecumenical (sp?) christian monastic community in france. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit there each year. Most stay for 1-2 weeks. But they allow a few to stay for up to 2 years. While there you work (could be in their garden) and attend prayers three times daily, and once a week meet with one of the brothers for spiritual direction. I just finished a great book on it, and if I were in your shoes it is what I would do. Here is the link for the book: http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/review/code=3525 and their website is here: http://www.taize.fr/

    Or, Sojourners is looking for two more apprentices for next year. I think i forwarded their info to you. But I would do Taize.