As congregations have been registering their Earth Day events, I have become totally inspired by the great work Unitarian Universalists are doing right now!

Plans for lifting up and celebrating Ethical Eating this Earth Day are underway in at least 14 states.  The Second Unitarian Church of Omaha in Nebraska will have a booth at a community Earth Day event, giving away shopping and gardening tips, seed packets with church info on them, and are selling fair trade coffee and teas.  The UU Congregation at Rock Tavern in New York will clean up trash in local wetlands, including a portion which flows through one of the few remaining dairy farms in the region which produces and sells milk locally.   The Accotink UU Church in Virginia will follow their Earth Day Service with tastings from the “Cooking—All Things Considered” class and plan to kick off the 40/40/40 Campaign, getting 40 members to commit to an Ethical Eating action for 40 days in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.  See a list of events planned (PDF), as of March 30th.

Join the movement!
Information and suggestions on issues ranging from the field to the table, with links to congregational stories, worship materials, ideas for actions in your own community are available on the UUMFE Earth Day website.  Go a step further by participating in the 40/40/40 Campaign, and get 40 people from your congregation (or 40%) to commit to take action.  Register your Earth Day event to be included in a national press release and the final count of participating UU congregations, and check out resources on media and messaging to share your message beyond church walls.  If you register your congregation’s event, you will be entered in a raffle to win a $50 gift certificate to the UUA Bookstore.  Share the story of your event afterward to be entered a second time!

A Salad Bar of Worship Ideas
Here are a number of activities you can do in a smaller group worship setting, whether it’s an RE class, a covenant group, a circle worship, or for a group meeting specifically for the event.  Feel free to pick and choose from these resources.

For additional resources around faith and ethical eating, please check out the Ethical Eating Supplemental Worship Resources page:

  • Select some quotes related to ethical eating.  Pick quotes from a variety of sources, such as Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan, the Bible, and Thich Nhat Hanh.  Have people select a quote that appeals to them.  Go around the circle and have people read the quotes aloud and share their reactions to the quotes.
  • Lead a ritual to wash away the things that are preventing us for eating more ethically.  Have each person silently think of something that is blocking them from focusing on their faith or from making mindful decisions around food.  Have them write it on a dish with a washable marker.  Provide a pitcher and bowl for people to silently wash away these barriers to action.
  • Lead a guided meditation on tangerines (or some other food).  Thich Nhat Hanh has a short essay on this in his book, Peace in Every Step, which discusses this more.  Have people think about the origins of the fruit and all the people and natural resources involved in getting the tangerine to them.  Engage each of the senses in the fruit, one at a time.  Finish each bite before starting the next.  Truly focus on the fruit and be aware of the gift it is to us.
  • Have people write down what they ate in a recent meal.  Pose questions for people to think about, as they reflect on that meal.  Ask them to take notes, and to especially note questions to which they don’t know the answers.  Some examples of questions might be: Where did the food come from?  Were pesticides and fertilizers used in the production of the foods?  Were the workers paid fair wages?  How far away did it come from? Discuss the answers.  How might we move forward from here? Can we turn any of the “I don’t knows” into things we are aware of?  Being aware of how our food is produced reduces the chances that living beings are being exploited.
  • Give people an opportunity to meditate and consider what they’ve learned about ethical eating and food justice.  Have little containers filled with soil and seeds and let people plant seeds as they share a commitment to one change, big or small, they’d like to make in their lives, on their journey toward ethical eating.
About the Author
Rowan Van Ness
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