Food for the soul

March 20, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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The FoodFaith initiative was launched this week in Sydney with religious leaders breaking bread with academics and sustainability groups to discuss the latest food sustainability issues and strategies.

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The gathering at Bodhi Restaurant launched the world-first Australian initiative, a response to the growing concerns of climate change, hunger, loss of biodiversity, water restrictions and other environmental crises in which food and agriculture play a major role.

A Rabbi, Imam, Christian minister, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic and Indigenous leaders created the group to “put the subject of food sustainability as a centrepiece on the table”.

The leaders spoke about a “climate of hope”, shared values, and a productive faith partnership – a positive antidote to the prevailing negativity in the news agenda.

FoodFaith brings to the table the specific traditions of the major faiths that nurture our world and encourages interfaith dialogue and actions surrounding food sustainability.

Supporting organizations include the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) and Meat Free Week.

At the launch, a raft of projects and recommendations were announced.

Key recommendations of FoodFaith (www.foodfaith.com.au) are:

▪               Limiting food waste
▪               Eating less meat and more vegetables to reduce our personal carbon footprint
▪               Sharing excess food with organizations who can benefit
▪               Linking up with local farmers through community supported agriculture; and
▪               Advising against or banning the use of ingredients from endangered plants and animals in food and traditional medicines.

FoodFaith is also a platform for different religious groups to come together and assist those less fortunate by providing a meat-free meal as a communal activity.

Another practical initiative FoodFaith is looking to implement is an interfaith youth project creating an edible garden together. The ‘Planting Seeds’ project aims to create ‘fertile common ground’ where everyone has a different yet complementary role to encourage growth and nourishment. See www.foodfaith.com.au

Those attending included Rabbi Zalman Kastel of Together for Humanity, Jacqui Remond, Director of Catholic Earthcare Australia, Imam Ahmed Abdo of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Sr Elizabeth Delaney, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches Australia, Dr Miriam Pepper of Uniting Earthweb, Vijai Singhal of the Hindu Council of Australia, Clarence Slockee, Education Co-ordinator, Aboriginal Programs at Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands Sydney and Kim Lee from Tzu Chi Buddhist Sydney.

ABC Radio National’s Dr Rachael Kohn, presenter of The Spirit of Things, also spoke at the event.

Information on each faith’s sustainable food beliefs and initiatives can be found on the www.foodfaith.com.au website.

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