Good food. The phrase means different things to different people. Aside from the obvious (parents: vegetables; kids: candy!), even our location—farm, suburban, urban—affects how we access food and think about nutrition. Connecting City To Farm, a nonprofit organization founded by Kris Habashy, connects food producers and consumers by teaching families about safe and affordable nutrition through the lens of agriculture. Kris is passionate about promoting the American farmer, educating urban-dwellers about modern agriculture and its far-reaching benefits. She also believes that something as physical as food has a profound effect on our spiritual lives.
CP: What inspired you to start ‘Connecting City to Farm?”
Kris: I grew up on a commercial farm, and I’ve lived in the city for the last twenty years. Both cultures have stolen my heart! It’s my observation that the widening gap between urbanites and agriculture is being too easily filled with fear and confusion through effective marketing and clever headlines. Connecting City To Farm was created out of a desire to bridge the gap between consumers and our food source by digging past food labels and finding out what really happens on a modern farm.
CP: How does “hunger and health” relate to our relationship with God?
Kris: In this context hunger refers to lack of nutritiously rich food, not just the absence of calories. In many underserved neighborhoods in the US there is limited to no access to healthy foods. The only places to buy food in these areas, which are labeled “food deserts,” are convenience stores and fast food restaurants, which offer meager choices, empty calories, and very little nutritional value. Children living in these neighborhoods miss the window of physical development when their bodies desperately need nutrients to develop muscle strength, bone density and brain functioning. As they mature, they develop an unfortunate number of health issues like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high-blood pressure and cancer. The vicious cycle of poverty continues as they are physically unable to work and bring dignity to themselves and their families. The epidemic of childhood obesity has even become a national security concern because many young adults do not qualify for military service due to poor health.
The Bible tells us multiple times to care for the poor, so Connecting City To Farm created an action piece called Farm Camp to launch kids into a healthy lifestyle. Farm Camp is a four-day learning adventure where we take diverse groups of kids (some from affluent neighborhoods and some from underserved communities) to our commercial farm so they can see first-hand where their food is grown. We also teach this eclectic group of students simple, accessible healthy-living strategies like Drink Water, Get Up and Move, and Eat Real Food. And more importantly, we get to teach them the motivating factor behind all these choices: they are valuable to the Sovereign God of the Universe. He loves them so much that he sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for their sins and rise again so they can be in a personal relationship with their Creator. As a response to His love, we can be good stewards of the resources He has given us—resources like our bodies, our minds, our soil, our water, our environment, our atmosphere. All these things come together in a beautiful blend of age, gender, race, and background at Farm Camp as we learn truth together that applies to all of us.
CP: What does God have to say about our role in growing and providing food?
Kris: Everyone needs food. Our world population is growing and is estimated to be approximately 9 billion by the year 2050. When this estimation was first published in 1985, brainstorming groups in the ag industry began meeting to create ways for farmers to keep up with the demands that were predicted to unfold over the next sixty-five years. Agriculture professionals have the unique responsibility of making sure there’s enough food for all those people, and they take that responsibility very seriously. In the same way we learn in Genesis chapter 41 that Joseph planned ahead by storing food for the drought that God told him was coming, farmers are planning ahead to ensure that their levels of food production keep up with the rising population. So far, the estimation is on track. We have seen a decreased rate of infant mortality and an increased rate of life expectancy. More life is a good thing.
CP: How can our food choices influence our spiritual life?
Kris: Food is a tool God uses throughout his word to show his character, favor, and faithfulness. He designed us not only to need food, but to enjoy it. Several festivals were designated by him for the Jewish people that involve food, and they were often coupled with weddings and celebrations throughout the Bible. In addition, he used it to show his faithful provision by showering manna on the Israelites when they were in the wilderness. Conversely, Jesus fasted while being tempted in the wilderness to acknowledge his dependence on the Lord. Out of his love for us, God has created us with miraculous bodies. In response to that love, we want to learn to be good stewards of our bodies and choose foods appropriately. We won’t be perfect in our pursuit of healthy, nutritious food choices. Curbing our appetites is a spiritual discipline in lots of areas of our lives that goes beyond food. Like other areas of conviction, we can choose to obey, listen to the Holy Spirit, and yield our diets to the Lord. He may call us to fast for a period of time. He may call us to abstain from a certain food, such as sugar. He may call us to experience hospitality by graciously accepting the meal offered to us by our host. The fascinating thing about connecting our food choices to our spiritual life is that we have that opportunity several times each and every day. His hand provides, sustains, blesses, and instructs through meeting a basic universal need.
Take a peek at the most recent Farm Camp during Spring Break in March 2017!