Marian Sauder Egli Responds to Timbrel’s Food Justice Issue

Editor’s Note: There have been so many positive responses toTimbrel’s latest issue centered on diverse perspective on food justice. The following email was sent directly to me by Marian Sauder Egli. She gave permission to have her perspective posted on the Mennonite Women Voices blog.

“I enjoyed every article in the Timbrel spring issue.

I find that refrigeration is an issue in understanding “Food Justice.”  For a couple years I shared a church-owned apartment in Harlem, NYC with a friend. We chose to eat and cook separately since we were seldom there at the same time and had differing food choices.

The refrigerator met apartment code standards but was smaller than anywhere I had lived up to that time.  We couldn’t buy in bulk or make a large kettle of soup to then divide into smaller portions and freeze due to space.  Even while having a clean kitchen, there is an on-going battle with roaches when living in a 5 story walk-up apartment building.  It was better to store dry foods in the refrigerator. Continue reading

Danile Martens on Food Justice :: Timbrel Spring 2015

20150314_140422Danile Martens lives and works in Mishawaka, Indiana.  She is married to John Martens.   She spent 4 years with her family in Cambodia with MCC working in provincial health services.  She is an active member of Kern Road Mennonite Church.  For fascinating reading on sustainable farming practice and theology of creation care she recommends the work of Gene Logsden,  Joel Salatin, and Ellen Davis.

It is winter and a pristine white snowfall flocks on branches, and gathers in swales, covering the pasture in white under a brilliant blue sky.  Soon spring will bring a green flush of grasses and clover, and the calves and their old dams will kick up their heels in anticipation and delight as they move to new pasture.  For now I enjoy the quiet of the morning, watching the dance of cardinals, finches, sparrows and juncoes around  the feeder.  Winter’s comparative leisure contrasts to the months of the growing season, May to October, when work lasts until dark most days. I have learned to accept the long spring and summer working days, at the end of which we have time only to eat, clean up, and fall into bed. We do not live by the clock, but by the rhythm of the seasons.  I find order and beauty in working with the cycles of nature but it is out of step with modern life.

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Janie Beck Kreider on Food Justice :: Timbrel Spring 2015

Janie Beck Kreider is the Associate Coordinator of Public Programs at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center. She is also on staff with the Mennonite Creation Care Network and is part of the Mennonite Church USA communications team. She graduated from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in 2012 with a Master of Divinity degree. Janie lives with her husband Luke in Charlottesville, Virginia and attends Charlottesville Mennonite Church. She enjoys leading retreats, planning worship, hiking and camping, music, cooking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

Last month I led a women’s retreat on spirituality and the environment. This was the third retreat I’ve organized since joining the staff at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center, and they have all somehow incorporated things I love dearly: singing and worshiping with other women, hiking at night in the snow, sharing delicious and thoughtfully prepared food, and reflecting on stories from the Bible and from our lives.

An important part of the retreat each year is to practice paying attention to the non-human elements in the world around us and in the biblical texts we study together. Following this theme, I led a workshop on prayer practices, including lectio divina, a slow, contemplative praying of scripture. In a small group we prayed excerpts from the long and beautiful Psalm 104:

O LORD, how manifold are your works!

In wisdom you have made them all;

The earth is full of your creatures.

You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,

And plants for people to use,

To bring forth food from the earth,

And wine to gladden the human heart,

Oil to make the face shine,

And bread to strengthen the human heart…. 

After praying together, we reflected on how the Spirit had moved in us. One woman shared that bread was the thing that struck her the most throughout our praying, that recently she had been reading about the health benefits of eating a gluten-free diet, and that recent studies have shown that wheat is difficult for the body to digest.

She had tears in her eyes as she reflected on how disorienting and even painful considering this dietary shift has been for her, because of how deeply bread is connected with her spirituality and the myriad ways bread is connected with the story of God’s people as a nourishing substance. Continue reading

Laura Bowman on Food Justice :: Timbrel Spring 2015

Laura Alysse Bowman is currently serving in Kathmandu, Nepal with MCC as the Mental Health Transit Home Activities Coordinator. She grew up in Archbold, Ohio, where she attended Zion Mennonite Church. In 2014, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Eastern Mennonite University. There she was involved with activities concerning women’s rights, mental well-being, and the environment. Laura likes to spend her time in nature, dancing, enjoying good food, and connecting with friends and family.

I sat in the sunlight, sipping a cup of Nepali tea. Overwhelmed with the day’s work, I appreciated this moment to sit and take it all in. I watched a woman, whose son was tugging on my coat, wander around the yard of the Transit Home, crying to herself. She had been in living in psychosis for a few weeks now, and no one had been able to talk to her without her repeating the same sentence over and over again. Months of living on the street, struggling to keep herself and her son alive, had made her confused and angry.

This sort of behavior is common in the work I do in Nepal. I volunteer with Koshish, an organization that rescues women with mental illness who are often abandoned on the streets or locked up in their homes. The women who are rescued spend some time at the Transit Home where they receive treatment and care and are then reintegrated back with their families or communities. I often see cases that make me want to close my eyes, bury my head, and forget that the horrible stories I hear actually happen. Continue reading