Climate & Food
Here you can find resources to help you explore Climate & Food in worship, commitment to action and in joining with others to call for change. This resource has been produced by Caroline Pomeroy and Alice Corrie of Climate Stewards, an organisation which helps you calculate your carbon footprint, reduce it if you can, and offset the rest.
Exploring Climate & Food in Theology
The bible is an ‘earthy’ book, and has plenty to say about food and farming. Farmers feature heavily in the old and new testaments, Levitical laws protect the land and people from exploitation, and many key events revolve around meals. At the heart of our faith is the Eucharist (literally, ‘thanksgiving’), when we eat a symbolic meal of bread and wine to remind us of Jesus’ death, resurrection and presence with us.
The bible doesn’t say much about carbon footprints, food miles or plastic, but it does talk about justice, generosity and loving our neighbour. That’s why we care about our what we eat. In response to the Pharisees’ question ‘Who is my neighbour?’ Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan, reminding us that our neighbours are not necessarily the people who live next door (Luke 10:30-37). In today’s world I believe that our neighbours include our local neighbours suffering from food poverty; our global neighbours facing malnutrition and starvation due to crop failure, floods, droughts caused by climate change; our future neighbours - our children and grandchildren, who will see much harsher impacts of climate change; and our non-human neighbours facing extinction from our farming practices. If we are to truly love all of our neighbours, then our food choices should cause them blessing, not harm.
Here are some passages which could help you explore this topic further during your climate-focused service:
Exodus 12:1-14 - The story of the passover meal
Exodus 16 - God provides manna from heaven
Psalm 104:14-15 - God’s provision of food
Psalm 145:15-17 - God’s provision and faithfulness
Luke 22:7-38 - the Last Supper
Romans 14 - Paul tells us to give grace to one another using food choices as an example.
We thank you for your generosity in providing abundant food from fields and forests, sea and farms, factories and kitchens. Thank you for the joy and pleasure of preparing, eating and sharing meals.
But we know that our food choices can cause harm to your creation and our global neighbours as we consume more than we need, waste what others could be eating, and create unnecessary rubbish.
Give us wisdom as we decide what to eat, where to shop, what to grow and how to dispose of our waste. Help us to live more simply, to act justly and to love mercy.
We ask this in the name of our Saviour and Sustainer, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Resources to help you commit to change as a community
Maintain a posture of gratitude and worship to God for the provision of food.
This can be in the form of prayers of thanksgiving in church services, in personal prayer, or by making a habit of giving thanks for food before eating.
Work out the carbon footprint from your diet
19% of UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from food (14.5% due to the meat and dairy industries; 4.5% from all other food). You could use 360carbon (for churches) or the Climate Stewards carbon calculator (for individuals) to work out the carbon footprint of your diet, as a starting point for committing to change.
Eat lower down the food chain
When you’ve found out how your food impacts the planet, you can start to look for lower impact alternatives and practices. Take a look at this graph (Section 7) to compare the impact of different foods. Commit to this action here.
Don’t waste food
Only buy what you need, be creative with leftovers and compost food waste. In the UK, the average family wastes £700-worth of food per year. Take a look at these resources to think creatively about how you can reduce food waste. Commit to taking this action here.
Eat locally & seasonally
Between 0.5% to 10% of the carbon footprint of food comes from transport - more for airfreighted foods. Look for locally produced food and learn what food is in season. Commit to this action here.
Take your own bags and containers to the shops, use wax wraps, buy a Keep Cup, look for local recycling options. Don’t forget that plastic is not always bad - it can prevent food waste, another contributor to climate change.
Resources to help you join with others to call for action around Climate & Food
Contacting your local council and your MP with your concerns and calling on them for action can make a difference. Hope for the Future can help you by providing research, training and support for faith groups to build a relationship with your local MP.
Join a national campaign calling for climate justice by thinking about the food we eat and other actions in order to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees C. Sign The Time is Now declaration here.
Feedback (2020) Feedback: Feeding People, Backing The Planet. [online] Available here. Accessed 30 November 2020].
Our World in Data (2020) You Want To Reduce The Carbon Footprint Of Your Food? Focus On What You Eat, Not Whether Your Food Is Local. [online] Available here.
[Accessed 30 November 2020].
Tearfund (2020) Renew Our World FAQs. [online] Available here.
[Accessed 30 November 2020].
White, H., 2018. Evidence Review: Plastic Packaging And Fresh Produce. [online] Wrap.org.uk. Available here. [Accessed 2 December 2020].
Wrap.org.uk (2020) Food Waste Falls By 7% Per Person In Three Years | WRAP UK. [online] Available here. Accessed 2 December 2020].