Harvest is a time to reflect on and respond to our creative role within God’s creation and our responsibilities, under God, for all God’s creatures. Harvest Festival remains one of the most popular church events but all too often services do not address contemporary food and farming concerns that raise vital ethical questions for Christians. Contemporary farming practices provide cheap food today but are putting at risk the mechanisms God has set in place to ensure tomorrow’s harvests.
How our food is produced raises many issues relating to wildlife, human health, animal welfare and social justice. These include loss of biodiversity, threats posed by genetic engineering, the health implications of pesticide residues and growth hormones, intensive livestock practices, and low wages paid in poor nations. The wellbeing of UK farmers, too, needs to be addressed, with many on the margins of economic survival. Moreover, in many countries, including Britain, climate change is reconfiguring what can be grown.
Harvest is a timely opportunity to communicate the LOAF principles within the church – that where possible food should be Locally grown, Organically produced, Animal-friendly and Fairly traded. You may wish to consider arranging a Harvest Supper at which as much food and drink as possible has been produced according to the LOAF principles. LOAF place mats and leaflets are available for use at such a service.