Food that Feeds: Week 3 Easter E-Journey

April 23, 2013
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Dear Greg,

Columban Father Sean McDonagh consistently calls us to action on climate change: “If this generation fails to confront this issue, then no future generation will be able to undo the damage. Every human being and every creature in successive generations will suffer.”

In his 2010 World Day of Peace address, Pope Benedict XVI highlighted the need to address climate change, especially resulting from human energy use. He called on us to stand in solidarity with communities in developing countries, especially environmental refugees from climate change.

Biofuels, generated from plants, would appear at first glance to be a great alternative to energy production from fossil fuels, our most common energy source. If agriculture provides food, couldn’t it produce energy as well? Unfortunately they are not practical or moral alternatives. Biofuels replace farmland that puts food on tables and increase global food prices, adding to food insecurity. Put food on your table with a potluck and invite others to learn about the harmful impacts of biofuels and what they can do here.

Globally, there are many examples of corporations that grow biofuel crops by usurping local lands, leaving small farmers and communities impoverished and displaced. For example, in southern Chile, where Columbans serve, the Chilean government pressured the indigenous Mapuche community to hand over their farmland to the forestry company in order to make way for genetically modified pine and eucalyptus plantations used for the cellulosic ethanol. Now the Mapuche can no longer grow the food that once sustained them. Columbans can tell similar stories in many countries where we serve. The intrusion of farms used for biofuels decreases food sovereignty, devalues cultural farming and food practices, and leaves many with empty stomachs.

Host a potluck to share this Columban story and to educate your community on why we need to reform our renewable fuel standard here.

Pope Benedict urged in his 2009 speech to the United Nations that countries must “oppose those forms of aid that do grave damage to the agricultural sector, those approaches to food production that [promote] greed, which causes speculation to rear its head even in the marketing of cereals, as if food were to be treated just like any other commodity.”

Host a feast to prevent hunger! We invite you to host a locally sourced potluck to educate your friends and parish about the ethics of biofuels and take action to reform our renewable fuel standard to ensure that alternative fuels do not contribute to food insecurity. Pledge here and you will receive materials to plan your potluck including recipes, a prayer, and a sample letter to Congress.

Many blessings,
Amy Woolam Echeverria
CCAO Director

*All Easter Food E-Journey materials produced by the CCAO. Contact the CCAO at ccaoprograms@columban.org or 301-565-4547 with any questions.

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