trigger warning: This post talks about food and eating and might be triggering to folks who struggle with those issues.
I’m teaching a unit on food justice with my high school students. I thought I would share a bit of it here and see if other folks are interested in maybe participating. I’m including some of my class notes as well as the handout with the experiments that you can download as a pdf. Let me know if you’re interested in participating! I should state up front that I am teaching in a context where families are mostly middle to upper middle class (including some in the upper class), so this is an empathy and awareness raising exercise. It will also hopefully encourage baby steps in life change to live more justly. Radical living sometimes has to start small.
This year our program is called “Experimenting with resistance” and this is the first of our experiments. We spent a bunch of time talking about the book of Mark; we talked about the kind of movement Jesus was trying to create. A movement dedicated to peace making and to inclusion, but also a movement that would resist injustice. When we talk about resistance we’re talking about the steps we can make (both individually and together) to stop injustice from happening and to change the world in which we live.
So we’re going to spend the next several weeks talking about food and hunger. In class we’ll examine different aspects of food justice, watching some clips of documentaries, and have discussions about hunger and food. At home students will be asked to do experiments with their families.
At the bottom of this post is a list with some ideas. But first I want to say a bit more about why we’re doing this and offer some warnings.
I want to say right up front that this unit isn’t about shaming any of us for the amount of food we have or the money that we spend on it. However, sometimes I think that a little twinge of guilt can sometimes be healthy. When we feel guilty about something it is sometimes helpful to sit with that feeling: Why am I feeling guilty? Is there something about my behaviour that I should maybe change? Guilt can be the first sign that something in our lives should change. Shame, on the other hand, is when we start to say that we are bad people because we have enough to eat. This isn’t about shame. Shame immobilizes us, guilt motivates us. This is about being motivated to examine our lives and see where we can live more justly and sustainably.
I also want to say a word about eating disorders. I want us all to be really sensitive to each other during this time. If you are struggling with an eating disorder or are in recovery, I want to encourage you be aware of what you are feeling and to not participate in any experiments that could be triggering for you. If you feel like you need extra support, whether emotional or professional, please talk to me and I can get you resources. Eating disorders affect men and women and people of all ages and I don’t want this unit to be harmful to anyone. So please, if you have concerns you can talk to me.
As we talk about these experiments, it’s important to note that doing things like this are spiritual practices. Justice making is a spiritual practice. When we examine our lives to see if we can live more justly we are doing spiritual work. When we try to bring about concrete changes in the world, we are doing spiritual work. This unit on food isn’t separate from the studying we did on the Gospel of Mark, they go hand in hand. When we talk about Jesus’ call to discipleship; to change our lives and try to be like him this is what we’re talking about: Concrete changes that make us more aware of our connection to one another.
Here is a list of suggested foodexperiments. Some are specific to my context, but you can find substitutes in your area.