I can remember the outrage in the 1970s and 80s, when it was revealed that various government interventions had resulted in foodstuffs being stockpiled in grain mountains, butter mountains, and milk lakes across the EU.
Now I hear that we’re facing the opposite: the British government is preparing for potential shortages of foods and medicines if they are unable to reach an agreement with the EU over Brexit.
Far too much, followed by far too little. Fat years followed by lean years.
Of course, for many in our nation, the lean years are already here:
‘In the financial year 2017-18, over 1.3 million three–day emergency food supply parcels were distributed by Trussell Trust food banks, representing a 13% increase on the previous year.’
Food shortages are a reality for many families in the UK, even while the supermarket shelves groan with abundance, and households waste over 4.4 million tonnes of edible food each year (as opposed to inedible food waste, such as chicken bones and egg shells).
As a snapshot of the brokenness of our world, our attitude to and distribution of food is a pretty graphic one.
Christ’s death and resurrection bring about a new creation, the restoration of peace and wholeness – what the Bible calls ‘shalom’ – to every area of life on this planet. We often relate that to moral flaws such as pride, drunkenness, or sexual sin. But what if we started to pursue shalom in the area of our ‘daily bread’?
Here are some questions to consider as we assess whether shalom is beginning to make it as far as our kitchens: Do I/my family eat for nutrition or for indulgence? Do we make time to appreciate our food, acknowledge its source, and enjoy the process of sharing a meal? Do we steward our excess well – whether that means freezing leftovers or inviting those in need to share in all God has blessed us with?
It is right that we are distressed when we see one nation hoarding grain while another starves, but we must be careful of holding governments to a higher standard than ourselves. Large-scale injustices need to be addressed, but Jesus had firm words for those who expected others to live righteously yet made excuses when it came to their own lives. Is God’s rule and reign – his shalom – as evident in our fridges as it is in the more public areas of our lives?
Jennie is a freelance writer and editor who lives in London and worships at Grace London. She blogs at jenniepollock.com