Tuesday, April 3, 2012

soymilk and grace

Food list

Breakfast: peanut butter and bread, coffee and soymilk
Lunch: salad, carrots, raisins, a pecan sandie, orange
Dinner: salad, vegan bean burrito, cream cheese brown

Origin of an Item
I don’t remember the last time I had a glass of milk. When I was in high school, my parents (who have histories of heart disease on both sides of their families) stopped buying cow’s milk and started buying soymilk, because soymilk is known to reduce people’s risk for heart disease. Much to my younger sister’s dismay, they’ve never converted back (but now that she lives at home again, they keep some cow’s milk in the house for her). We keep soymilk in our house now for cereal and coffee, but nobody I live with just drinks a glass of soymilk… but my lactose intolerant self does enjoy some good chocolate soymilk every once in awhile.

What is soymilk really? I like this succinct definition: “Soymilk is not technically a milk, but a beverage made from soybeans. It is the liquid that remains after soybeans are soaked, finely ground, and then strained. Since it doesn't contain any lactose, soymilk is suitable for lactose intolerant folks. It's also a popular cow's milk substitute for vegetarians since it's based on a plant source (others include rice, oat, almond, coconut, and potato milk).” (http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/nutritional-differences-between-soy-and-cows-milk)

My soymilk was made by Wild Harvest and they had this to say on their website: “We choose our partners carefully and each shares our commitment and belief in providing great tasting, healthy foods free from all that is artificial.” They seem to actually know their farmers (though one might argue that since they’re trying to sell a product, they might want to embellish those relationships.


In Grace at the Table: Ending Hunger in God’s World, David Beckmann and Arthur Simon write that “more than 800 million people in the developing countries still suffer chronic undernutrition… in the United States 34 million people live in families that are food insecure…Yet widespread hunger is not longer necessary. Wars and tyrants will cause some people to go hungry, no matter what we do. But the resources, technology and knowledge needed to end the sort of routine, pervasive hunger the world now tolerates are readily available” (3).

We have the technology to feed people who are hungry in the United States and around the world. Evil in the world (like war and tyrants) means that some hunger will happen until we live into peaceful ways of life and governance. But we also choose to not use technology to make sure all stomachs are full with delicious, healthy, accessible food. This is another kind of evil in the world. Beckmann and Simon suggest that we have to address issues around population levels, joblessness, gender, economics (including debt) and legislation. These are global systemic issues that we can figure out. I’m reminded of how we can figure out how to use food like soymilk so that people like me (allergic to lactose) can enjoy cereal or soy ice cream.

It is not just people of faith who should respond to hunger, but whenever Christians say give thanks for the food they share together, they recognize the abundance that God has given them. They recognize that all people are loved by God, God who longs for all people to have enough.

Today I give thanks for the gift of food at my table and for the challenge to work so that all will be fed.

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