Friday, November 17, 2017

Green Team Talk :: Berries

blackberries design

Welcome to November! We're almost ready to move into meteorological winter.

All the psalmists loved and appreciated the glories of God's natural creation. The composer of Psalm 74 reminds God:
16You own the day; you own the night.
You splashed the stars, moon, and sun across the sky—the greater lights and the lesser lights.
17You stretched out the earth, determined its boundaries, settled its corners.
You created the seasons: summer, winter, autumn, and spring.

We're in the season of autumn or fall, the time of falling temperatures, falling amounts of daylight {and increasing hours of darkness}. In some sections of the northern hemisphere leaves fall off trees; in fact, we have some deciduous trees here in southern California. Most people's moods fall a little during the cooler months, even if they have no history of clinical depression. As weather gets cooler, most of us fall into a more serious work and production schedule. I've already done that this year!

For the past six months I've been loving blueberries and blackberries every morning on my cereal; I wake up thinking about breakfast! My Dominican east coast landlady introduced me to Special K—because she worked at the church food pantry, not because she was from the Dominican Republic. Over this half year, my fabulous berries have been local – from northern Mexico or southern California – and very affordable. But those days are over for a while.

Backtracking to when I first was out on my own and shopping for myself, I'd get very excited whenever the store had out of season produce like berries and tomatoes in midwinter. Because they'd been engineered(!) to travel and they'd been trucked quite some distance, they always were expensive. My grandmother the farmer who could grow anything kept telling me "No! Don't buy that stuff! Always go for seasonal and locally grown!"

It's true my half year of affordable local blueberries and blackberries is over, but recently I've been seeing berries from further south than northern Mexico. Right now prices aren't bad at all, but Chile is too far to be considered local, too far for healthy fruit, so as much as I'd love more fresh blueberries and blackberries, I'm not buying any.

What does scripture tell us about all of this? God told Abraham to go to the place God would show him. We know imperial Egypt was not the place God promised Abraham. With everything all administrated up, counted to fractions of units, stored and stockpiled to create artificial shortages and planned obsolescence, Egypt very definitely could not be the place. The exodus desert with its hot, dry, shifting sands {what can you plant in the sand?} wasn't the land of promise, either {though we've learned how much life teems underneath the surface of the desertscape}. Yet the desert provided opportunities to trust God for life-giving water, to enjoy food in this moment, not to keep it around since it wouldn't last in an edible state.

As it turned out, the place God promised to Abraham was Canaan, with its foreign gods. That place of promise also brought the heaven underfoot of land to seed, nurture, and harvest. Crops watered by streams cascading down the surrounding mountains—not by treated water running through pipes from somewhere a thousand miles away. Soil warmed by the great light of the sun in the sky above, not by artificial illumination plugged into a grid originating several states away—Arizona? Colorado?

What does this biblical model say to us? It essentially counsels us to grow our own food if possible, and what we can't grow, to buy fresh and locally grown. What do we lose? Contributing to climate change, creating even more pollution. What do we gain? A lot of flavor and savor. We also gain fruits, berries, and veggies that don't keep well because they haven't been modified to withstand hauling and storing. That fact tells us we need to enjoy our food now and not try to keep it around; it suggests whenever we have too much for ourselves and our families, we need to give any leftovers or surplus to others so everyone gets fed.

To God alone be glory—amen!

We discussed how we know what we're getting; I admitted there's often an element of risk concerning labor and other production factors we may not be able to figure out.

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