Skip to main content

Eat your vegetables!

Market Woman at a Vegetable Stand by Pieter Aertsen, 1567
Pope Francis asked us to receive his encyclical, Laudato Si', with an open mind.  We need humility to accept God is the Creator and we are the created. We need enlightenment to see all life is a gift but human life is uniquely made in the image of God. Because of our exceptionalism we need wisdom to be good stewards of life on earth.

The entire encyclical is a call to conversion which means each of us needs to take an honest look at our lives and lifestyle to see where our relationships with God, with other people, and with nature need improvement. This evaluation must be based on reason, not emotions. For example, many of us want to do our part and recycle and we feel good when we throw our paper, glass and plastics into the  big blue recycling bin. Yet, this article in the Washington Post shows how our emotional need to do something and be "green" may lead us to misguided efforts that accomplish little and may actually harm the environment. Pope Francis points out in Laudato Si'  our efforts to be good stewards must be based on science that is truly free from ideological and political biases.

One area that I have been working on for the last several years is to make my eating habits more ecologically friendly. Now, I must say that I chuckle every time I see an environmentalist rallying around meatless Mondays as if abstaining from meat one day a week is new innovation. We Catholics have been going meatless at least one day a week for centuries. We just do it on Friday as an act of penance to join our sacrifice with that of Christ. But there are some new considerations for planning my family meals that I think make our meal times more environmentally friendly.

I have become a huge fan of shopping for locally grown meat, dairy, and produce. When we insist on eating strawberries in December, we end up with bland pale orbs that offer but a subtle reminder of what strawberries are supposed to taste like but cannot compare to the freshly picked juicy red berry that shows up in the farmers markets in spring. In addition to offering second-rate flavor, the out-of-season strawberry shows up in our grocery stores only after great expenditures of energy to transport them hundreds or even thousands of miles.

In addition to making our lives more energy efficient, eating what is in season and locally grown makes our lives richer as we celebrate the arrival of our favorite fruits and vegetables. We rediscover the rhythms of nature. In Germany, the arrival of asparagus is the cause of grand celebrations and festivals. Here in Virginia I savor the berries of spring followed by the corn, tomatoes, peppers, and squash of summer followed by the apples, pears, pumpkins, and other squash of autumn. I am becoming more adept at freezing and canning produce when it is in season so I can still enjoy it when it is not.

I joined a farm co-op and get a weekly box of produce straight from the growers. I am learning to cook vegetables that I would never have tried otherwise. I found out I really like both turnips and collard greens. I have also learned that while produce can make a beautiful still-life paining, fruits and vegetables do not have to be picture perfect to be both healthy and tasty. I was appalled to learn how much of our food supply is plowed under because it is not pretty enough to sell. Being willing to eat "ugly" produce prevents the waste of both perfectly edible food and the resources required to grow it.

Buying local food does not have to be an all or nothing endeavor. Here in Virginia I will never have locally grown bananas, avocados, and mangos so I will still rely on imported produce. But if there is a local alternative, I will try to wait for the season and celebrate the bounty of home.


Popular posts from this blog

Parent Letter from a Catechist

I am going to be teaching seventh grade CCD this year. We do most of the preparation for confirmation during this year since Confirmation is usually scheduled for the fall of the eighth grade year.I have composed a letter to the parents to try and keep them active in their children's religious education. I thought I would post it here and get your feedback before I send it out in a couple of weeks.

I am privileged to be your child’s seventh grade CCD teacher for the 2006-2007 school year. This is a very important year. We will focus on your child’s preparation for confirmation. Of course, you have already been preparing your child for this sacrament for many years. You are the primary catechist for your child. You show how important your Faith is by making Mass attendance a top priority and by family prayer.

Confirmation is one of the Sacraments of Initiation. It is a beginning. It is not a graduation. This year we will work to solidify the foundation of your child’s Catholic Faith.…

Dispelling the Myth of the Travel Dispensation

One of the fun things about having a site meter on my blog is I can see which posts garner the most attention. I can also see how people find my blog. One of the most read posts from my two years of blogging is this one that discusses finding Mass while traveling. I would like to think this post is so popular because it is so well written. The truth of the matter is that it generates so much traffic because I use the words “travel dispensation for Mass”—as in “There is no such thing as a travel dispensation for Mass.” I would guess that nearly a dozen times every week, someone googles “travel dispensation for Mass” and finds my blog. I wonder how many of these folks are poor souls trying to assuage their Catholic guilt with evidence of a justification for missing Mass while on the road.

I know that when I tell my seventh grade CCD students that attending Mass every Sunday is a commandment (one of the top ten!) and not just a pretty good idea they are amazed. Missing Mass has become so …

United Breaks Guitars

This guy is really talented and what a creative way to get your message across. I think he captured the "indifferent employee" perfectly. They don't just work for airlines. I think I ran into them at Walmart on Friday!