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At the Lord's table: every day Thanksgiving

Washington, DC, Nov. 20, 2006 – The National Council of Churches USA's Eco-Justice Program is hoping people of faith this holiday season will remember the chain of God's creatures and creation that brings food to their family's table. From farmers, farmworkers, rural communities, land, water, air, and soil that was necessary to produce their meal, all deserve to be lifted up as families say their prayers of thanks this holiday season.

A new study, worship, and action resource, "At the Lord's Table: Everyday Thanksgiving," gives churches the tools to talk about how faith can and should influence food choices. It also provides action steps to engage congregations in progressive food buying practices and in advocacy for a better farm bill in 2007.

"At the Lord’s Table" asserts that we too often take for granted the food that we eat. This has contributed to a dangerous disconnect between the American people and their food in the eyes of the National Council of Churches USA's Eco-Justice Program. "Eating is necessarily an expression of our faith," says the resource. "We ought to approach our dinner tables just as we approach the Lord's table – reverently and fully aware of the implications of our meal.

The implications of food production and of farm policy for God's creation and for justice and equity among God's children are severe. On average, food at the local supermarket spends 7 to 14 days in transit and travel 1,500 miles before reaching our tables, making a significant contribution to our country's carbon emissions. A tenfold increase in pesticide application since 1945 has contributed to health problems including an increased incidence of cancer and neurological problems, especially among farmworkers. A recent study in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences found that women who have worked on farms are nearly three times more likely to develop breast cancer than those who have never worked on a farm.

These same pesticides have ended up in our waterways. According to the EPA, agricultural runoff including pesticides and other chemical inputs is the leading cause of impacts to our waterways. In fact, 40 percent of all clean water act grants have been used to control agricultural runoff pollution. This compromises drinking water sources and alters the perfectly balanced ecosystems of God's good creation. What's more is that the greatest perpetrators of these injustices are large-scale, corporate growers who dominate the markets, and make it difficult for some family farms to survive.

"This resource is about thanksgiving with a little 't'," said Cassandra Carmichael, director of NCC's Eco-Justice Programs. "I know that if people of faith just paused to be truly thankful and mindful with every meal they would not allow these injustices to go on. As consumers and as voters, they would not continue to support these sins against God's creation. In fact, I think they'd rise up and demand fair food and just policy."

The resource is an education and outreach component of the NCC's Faithful Harvest Campaign to reform the farm bill. It can be downloaded for free from the Eco-Justice Program's Network at www.nccecojustice.org/network. You need to sign-in to access the resource downloads. The Faithful Harvest Campaign's website is www.nccecojustice.org/faithharvesthome.html


NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252, dwebster@ncccusa.org.
NCC Eco-justice Director: Cassandra Carmichael, 202.481.6928, cassandra@nccecojustice.org.

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