Concrete purpose

"Concrete purpose" Continued...

Issue: "The rise of localism," March 12, 2011

An older man walked in and apologized to Pastor Devlin for the alcohol on his breath with the excuse that it helps him cope with his wife's death. "One day at a time," he said. Devlin corrected him: "One moment at a time. A day is too long." He prayed for the man just before a mother walked in to have a meal with her third-grade daughter.

Jones' vision has spread downtown. A couple of weeks later, two New York University students inspired and mentored by MBC made snickerdoodles in the kitchen of All Angel's Episcopal Church 125 blocks away. Since the beginning of February, they have started work on Jones' next vision-a bakery that can provide job training and job skills to the homeless along with revenue to sustain the Love Kitchen. Jon Kwan (a student in hotel management) and Derrick See (a business student) rolled balls of dough and dipped them in a bowl of cinnamon sugar, baking 100 cookies they would serve to the homeless at All Angel's ministry that night. Kwan pulled out a big baking sheet of perfect Red Velvet cupcakes and frosted them with a dollop of frosting made from blended buttercream icing and whipped cream. Jones provided the recipes-including his famous carrot cake recipe that will become the bakery's signature.

In addition to these ministries, Devlin also wants MBC to "infiltrate" the community. As part of that effort, Devlin is the pastoral liaison for the local police precinct, a certified Department of Corrections chaplain, and an applicant for the community board. He said the beauty of MBC is people like Jewel Jones, who have been working and living in the community for decades: "This is where they live. They see this as an oasis in a dry and thirsty land." Devlin, who has worked in urban ministry for 25 years, said thanks to them, pastoring MBC is "the easiest job I've ever had."

Eating local

Locavores come in all varieties

By Alissa Wilkinson

Not long ago, most diets consisted of food grown, raised, and prepared on one's own land or a neighbor's farm. Now, buying food from local sources is work. But health and nutrition, distrust of factory farms, and a fashionable desire to pursue sustainable agriculture and reduce dependence on foreign oil-all are turning local consumption into a trend.

The varieties of locavores seeking local food sources are as plentiful as tomatoes in August. Many shop at farmers' markets or participate in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. They grow food in backyard gardens or band together with neighbors to work in community beds. Their meat, eggs, and honey may come from local farmers. Some adjust their diet, concentrating on readily available products, in order to make the lifestyle more affordable.

And some locavores are extreme. They stick to a strict diet that includes only food produced within a fixed distance, 100 or even 50 miles. This can mean giving up wheat, olive oil, and sugar. Within this movement there are factions: Some allow items that would have historically been transported from far away-like salt. Others might allow indulgences like coffee or chocolate.

One middle-of-the-road variety could be called a "glocavore"-those who try to be locavores with an eye on the globe. Jamison Galt, a pastor in Brooklyn, likes locavore activities that preserve local cultures, but he also tries to share in global exchanges that allow him to try "ingredients and dishes from faraway places."

Eating local can be hard. Climate is a problem. In areas that spend half the year under snow, residents tire of eating root vegetables. Dry regions have insufficient natural irrigation. Even those in temperate climates occasionally yearn for strawberry shortcake in January, or prefer not to buy an enormous freezer or can food for storage through the barren months. Cost also is an issue. Local produce and meat may be cheaper than grocery-store fare, but often is not.

Not everyone agrees that food raised on small farms makes for more sustainable agriculture. While food bought at the farmstand down the road may require little fuel to transport, produce carried in many small shipments from a farm 50 miles away could use up more fuel than a single shipment from farther away that includes a larger quantity.

Scientists and industry experts also point out that large farms often can afford to invest in food safety measures, technologies that help reduce pesticide and fertilizer use, and energy-efficient machinery. Small farms may find all of that too costly. And, food shipped from far away creates jobs for those along the supply chain.

But most locavores agree on obvious benefits. Going to farmers' markets and meeting the people who raise the food is fun. Gardening in the backyard is good for physical and mental health. And tomatoes just taste better when they were picked yesterday.


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