16 Oct 2011
I promised last week to write about *why* I care so deeply about sustainable agriculture, eating local foods, supporting the local economy, and gardening to produce food. For me, this is a necessary part of being Pagan.
Even though I converted in 1995, I didn’t start thinking about the connection between faith and food until about 8 years ago when I started actively honoring the spirits of place. I felt a disconnect between being a part of a “nature religion” yet knowing relatively little of the nature all around me.
I started paying attention. I learned more about the trees in our woods, noted on my calendar when local flowers bloomed and when fruits came into season. The more I immersed myself in learning about the land around me, which at the time was Middle Tennessee, the more I wanted to learn. Each step I took brought me to a deeper understanding of the cycles of Nature in my area. All land is sacred, but this was my land, where I camped and hiked and worshiped and raised children. I began marking the holy days by what was blooming and then joined a CSA and started a vegetable garden so my family could participate by eating foods grown on our land. The local foods movement was just taking off in our area and as I learned more about sustainable farming the connection between environmental action, local and sustainable food choices, and living my faith became ever stronger.
Moving back to Florida was a huge change. The land here is drastically different from the Cumberland River Valley in Tennessee. The seasons are different, the plants are different… and here I have plunged even deeper into the local foods movement and my connection between food and faith, starting a cow pool to increase access to affordable local free-range meat, committing more of our food budget to local produce, and sourcing staples like rice and sugar.
Eating the food grown on the land you hold sacred is a powerful act. The French concept of terroir, the unique quality of foods specific to a region, is terribly Pagan. The terroir of the foods grown near my home, these distinct flavors of animal and plant, the nutrients from my soil, eating foods in their natural seasons, and supporting farmers who treat the earth and its creatures gently… this is how I choose to live my faith.