Milk and Alfalfa
During the season of Lent, the congregation I serve will be meeting on Wednesday nights and doing a 6-week study on the topic of food ethics. We’re calling the study Food Matters and we’re going to be wrestling with the following question: How do we practice our faith at the table?
For much of the last 8 weeks, I’ve been doing research: reading books and articles, as well as watching documentaries and video-recorded lectures posted on the internet about anything related to the global food system. I’m not yet as well-informed as Michael Pollan, but I feel like I surely must be close.
I’m so saturated, in fact, that I am having a hard time engaging in conversations about anything else. I’m not sure if it is my preoccupation or the curiosity of the other person, but somehow the conversation always veers onto the topic of food. I stayed with friends in Memphis – we talked about food ethics. They invited 10 people to dinner – we talked about food ethics. I went to the Ministerial Alliance breakfast gathering – we talked about food ethics.
I’m afraid I may be starting to repeat myself. But, here I go again …
The big news in the last few weeks to those who care deeply about the condition of our food supply is the USDA’s approval without restriction on the sale and planting of genetically modified alfalfa.
Alfalfa is the primary food for dairy cows. Organic alfalfa is the primary food for dairy cows producing organic milk. If genetically modified alfalfa cross-pollinates with organic alfalfa, then the formerly-organic alfalfa can no longer be certified as organic … and neither can any milk that comes from any cow who eats it.
The unrestricted planting of genetically modified alfalfa threatens the future of organic milk producers, not to mention the future of milk.
I don’t intend to get on my soapbox about this issue in this posting, especially not at this time of night. But I’m noticing that I’m buying milk and drinking milk more often in these last few weeks. It’s as though my body is manifesting my concern about the future of milk by trying to hoard it in preparation for whatever may come.
It saddens me to think that we have to be so concerned about the safety of our food.
For more information, read Marion Nestle on the threat of genetically modified crops, Robyn O’Brien on how the increase in food allergies is related to genetic engineering of food items, or read the letter in opposition signed by 25 Big Names in Organic and food safety.