Buying locally for Thanksgiving table can have spiritual connections

Kansas farming couple checks soil (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn) check quality of soil in

Kansas farming couple checks soil. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

When people buy locally for their meals, and especially big meals like Thanksgiving, it turns out they can make spiritual connections as well as ecological ones.

An article in the Sooner Catholic, newspaper of  the Oklahoma City Archdiocese, points out that plenty of farmers feel close to God from their work on the land.

Farmer Cindy Greenwood, who runs Greenwood Farms in Big Cabin, Okla., with her husband, Gary, views farming as helping her better understand God.

“We kind of look at it like it all blends together, the land and God and everything,” she said. “We couldn’t do the farming without God and the church.”

She and her husband raise grass-fed cattle, free-range hogs, goats, sheep and chickens.

In the article, writer Anamaria Scaperlanda Biddick points out that sustainable farming methods practiced by small farms are in line with the Catholic social principle of care for creation, rather than leading to soil erosion and water pollution. She notes that many of the practices of industrial agriculture —  mechanization, increased reliance on chemical fertilizers and specialization — cut costs in the short term but pose problems long-term for land and consumer health.

She writes that small farms and ranches can sell their products to consumers, rather than to food conglomerates — many of which, she says, under-pay cattle ranchers “to the point they have a negative return” and boycott ranches that try to negotiate a fair price. All of that, she points out, stands in contrast to the dignity of the worker, reinforced in every Catholic social encyclical.

Another farming couple she spoke with — Dean and Melissa Bennett, who run Guadalupe Oaks Farm in Hulbert, Okla., — not only spoke of the spiritual connection of farming but  also the reward of plain hard work.

Melissa said she feels closer to God by being closer to the land.

Her husband had a more practical take.

“When I go to bed at night, man, I’m tuckered out, ” he said, “but there is nothing else I’d rather do.”

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