Thought for Food

As a part of the administrative team here at Friends Journal, I don’t always have the opportunity to read and enjoy the articles in advance. Like you, I have to wait until the latest issue arrives in my mailbox. This month I have the privilege of taking a break from my usual work—more on that later—and reading the typically eclectic mix of articles our authors, editors, and designers have put together.

Shaun Chavis’s article in this issue ("Applying Quaker Thought to Food," pp. 8-11) spoke to me quite powerfully. My wife and I are new parents, and we’re finding that this fact has changed the way we approach many different things, including the choice of what to eat. It’s easy to make compromises in our diet when it seems that we’re only affecting ourselves. But when charged with the care of another—in this case, a beautiful eight-month-old son just beginning his life as an eater— we have become purists, zealots even. Nothing but organic food for our son! And as local as possible! What has changed, of course, is the fact that we are considering the well-being of others in making our decisions about food. And what Shaun argues in her article is that this mode of thinking is precisely what our Quaker faith demands.

Friends, she argues, should make food choices that reflect our care of others. And I suspect that the queries she poses will provoke thoughtful conversations among your family and your meeting. Are the people who raise, catch, harvest, butcher, and cook our food being treated fairly? Are people getting access to affordable, fresh food? Are we creating a sustainable food system so that future generations will have the food and water they need? Is everyone being invited to the growing national discourse on food? More than being a matter of health and preference, these questions are a matter of faith and practice for Friends.

My colleague Susan has written recently in this space about the responses we’ve received to her open letter last year about the future of Friends Journal. Part of our job on the administrative side of the magazine has been to read and digest these comments; to gauge what you, our readers, feel is most important about this ministry; and to think about how we can change to best meet these needs. We’ve received at least 152 letters from you since early December, and the number one sentiment has been "Friends Journal cannot be allowed to fold." Many of you wrote in with concrete suggestions about how to make this a more sustainable enterprise, suggestions for which we are very grateful. Our Board has embarked on a strategic planning process that will be deeply informed by these comments and sentiments. We look forward to sharing more with you in these pages about how you can help us to transform Friends Journal into the magazine that helps to satisfy the world’s hunger for Quaker voices and perspectives.

In the meantime, I invite you to read hungrily and be renewed!