Current Page: World | Monday, June 20, 2011
Christians Urged to Help Solve Food Crisis

Christians Urged to Help Solve Food Crisis

An unlikely figure delivered one of the most stirring presentations at the 2011 Christian Scholars Conference last week at Pepperdine University.

Simran Sethi, a Hindu and associate professor of journalism at the University of Kansas, called on “the faith community” to address the growing problem of hunger and the rising cost of food globally at the annual gathering of Christian intellectuals.

Known as “the green goddess,” Sethi is a self-proclaimed environmental activist and contributing environmental correspondent for NBC News. She delved deep into the subject of food, a topic she believes everyone can identify with, in her lecture titled “Our Daily Bread: Food, Faith and Conservation.”

“Our food system is in a state of deep disrepair, and I believe our greatest solutions lie in the faith community and in faith scholarship,” Sethi said.

Trumpeted as one of the top 10 eco-heroes of the planet by the British newspaper, “The Independent,” Sethi cited numerous statistics regarding the industrialization of farming over the past 30 years. Since 1979, 300,000 small farms in the United States have disappeared, she said. A small farm is characterized as a farm with less than 1,000 acres.

Additionally, just six percent of American farmers are younger than 35. Sethi said the race to produce cheaper food for a growing population concentrates agriculture into the hands of multi-national corporations such as Monsanto and Cargill.

“We need affordable food, but what passes as cheap food bears long-term cause for the most vulnerable people in our nation,” Sethi said of low-income communities, which usually have high rates of obesity.

The end result of the corporatization of farming is an emphasis on bigger and bigger yields of four crops: corn, rice, wheat and potatoes, which account for more than half of an average person’s daily caloric intake, Sethi noted.

The ground itself is also in crisis. One-quarter of the top soil in the United States is gone because of pesticide use. Those pesticides are used on crops that are genetically modified to withstand the harsh chemicals.

Sethi urged Christians to assume the biblical mantle of stewardship. She pointed to Christ’s use of nature in parables as evidence of God’s emphasis on a world properly nurtured and cared for.

“We’re called to be stewards of all God’s creation,” she said, calling this stewardship a Christian duty.

She closed her hour-long presentation by railing against the seed patents controlled by huge agriculture companies, claiming it violated the biblical example of stewardship. While she did not offer solutions, she did ask her audience to question the intention of agriculture companies which work toward larger crop yields to increase their bottom line, often at the expense of a crop’s nutritional value.

“Food should be a source of health,” Sethi said. “As a faith community, we are called to protect that seed.”

“I long for a silver bullet that will feed the hungry, that will cure the afflicted, that will make this broken system whole again, and there isn’t one solution.”


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