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Chop, fry boil: Eating for one or for six billion

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Learning a cooking repertoire of three basic recipes can get anyone into the kitchen and beyond the realm of takeout food, microwaved popcorn and bologna sandwiches in a few days.

"Chop, Fry, Boil: Eating for One, or 6 Billion" is the latest entry in the Sustainable Living series in the New York Times, outlining three basic cooking recipes that can provide the basis for sustainable eating in the home.

The puppet and the cricket: the value of silence

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I once interviewed Jay Taylor, director of spiritual formation for the Pentecostal Assemblies of God seminary in Springfield, Mo. His students had been spending some weekends at a remote Trappist monastery 70 miles from Springfield. Taylor said the formation team was not interested in creating monks but wanted its students to learn the importance of inward-directed spiritual disciplines.

The monastery’s Catholicism, its chanting, statues, icons, woolen robes, scapulars and incense, he said, were not as alien to the Pentecostal seminarians as the hushed quiet encountered there.

“It’s more than a little intimidating. It’s a shock when they experience their mind flying all over the place, hearing their inside chatter for what it is.”

Most of us live in a cacophonous world, and suffer for it in ways we’re not even aware of. Since the desert fathers and mothers in the early centuries, silence and a quiet mind have held an important place in the Catholic spiritual tradition.

Buddhists say the silence behind creation has a density to it, a physical-ness. It is teeming with possibility and potential. Silence is creative, healing and, most important, gives us wise counsel.

GM crops breed economic dependence, new form of slavery, says cardinal

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By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If farmers in Africa had greater access to fertile, arable land safe from armed conflict and pollutants, they would not need genetically modified crops to produce food, said the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Making growers reliant on proprietary, genetically modified seeds smacks of "the usual game of economic dependence," which in turn, "stands out like a new form of slavery," said Cardinal Peter Turkson.

The Ghanaian cardinal's comments came in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano Jan. 5.

It is "a scandal" that nearly 1 billion people suffer from hunger, Cardinal Turkson said, especially since there is more than enough food to feed the whole world.

Crops and livestock are destroyed because of strict trade restraints or in order to keep food prices high and, in wealthier countries, edible food "is thrown in the garbage," he said.

"All it would take is a little bit more solidarity and much less egoism" and there would be enough food to nourish even twice the current world population, he said.

Suggested Lenten actions to benefit the Earth

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Cut down on electricity use:
a) Turn off lights when not in use.
b) Unplug things seldom used.
c) Turn off the TV and radio that are just background noise.
d) Turn off the computer if you won’t be using it for several hours.
e) Use lower wattage bulbs in places that don’t need bright light.
f) Replace your current light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs that use 75 percent less energy.
g) Have a day a week of no TV, radio, computer, video games, and other electronics use.

Make earth-beneficial changes in your eating habits:
a) Eat out less at fast-food restaurants
b) Eat more organic and locally-grown foods
c) Eat less or no meat. Eat beans, grains, brown rice, nuts, seeds, tofu and more vegetables and fruits.
d) Cut back on highly packaged foods and snacks.
e) Eliminate or decrease consumption of soda, bottled water, and drinks purchased in styrofoam or plastic cups/bottles
f) Use canvas bags for your groceries and other purchases

Make changes in purchases and consumption:
a) For a certain time period, decide that you will purchase only what is NECESSARY. Have a buying moratorium.

Get creative this Lent: A parish program for Earth care

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I know it’s not fair. You just came out of the busy Christmas liturgical season, and here I am asking you to be thinking about Lent already. It’s just that I wanted to put my two-cents in early before all the Lenten plans were made. I’m aware that many parishes have certain Lenten traditions that they stick to, but if you’re a little tried of the status quo and want a fresh idea for a Lent, I’d like to share what our parish did a couple of years ago.

Our Green Team is always looking for ways to educate our parishioners on connections between faith and caring for the Earth, so Lent seemed like an ideal time for this. We wanted ecology to be a total parish theme, so got buy-in and approval from the pastor and parish council. This was easy, because I think most church leaders are happy to have a parish group take the initiative on a new project.

New Food and Drug Administration numbers reveal food animals consume the lion's share of antibiotics

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A report on the Center for a Livable Future Web site details the overuse of antibiotics in the nation's factory farms.

"Antibiotics, one of the world’s greatest medical discoveries, are slowly losing their effectiveness," the report says, "in fighting bacterial infections and the massive use of the drugs in food animals may be the biggest culprit. The growing threat of antibiotic resistance is largely due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in both people and animals, which leads to an increase in 'super-bacteria.' However, people use a much smaller portion of antibiotics sold in this country compared to the amount set aside for food animals.

Recent Pew Poll: Religion and the environment

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Submitted by Adam R. Smith. Smith is a leadership fellow at an environmental non-profit in Washington, DC.

"On any given Sunday, across America, pastors are preaching the good news. These men and women of the cloth are challenged weekly to share their thoughts on the infinite in a very finite amount of time. This naturally poses a problem as to what should be included and what is better left for another Sunday. A recent study finds that the majority of Christian preachers in America have been leaving the environment out of their sermons.

"According to a recent Pew study on American religion: 'Just under half (47 percent) of those who attend worship services regularly say that their clergy speak out on the environment… The majority of white Catholics (64 percent), white evangelical Protestants (59 percent) and white mainline Protestants (51 percent) in the survey say that the environment is not discussed at their place of worship.'

"The environmental awareness award, if there were such a thing, would go to Black Protestant congregations: More black Protestants (59 percent) than other religious groups report hearing about the environment from their clergy.

Prophet for the Earth: An exploration of the thought of Fr. Thomas Berry

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The late Fr. Thomas Berry is one of the key figures that have shaped the Catholic ecology movement. This is the first of a series of articles that will explore his thought and writings.

Many believe that the roots of our environmental crisis today lie in our values, grounded solidly within our religious concepts. As we believe and hope, so do we act and behave. We must discern our proper relationship with nature, and this is fundamentally a religious search. Its answers are found in an encounter with the Creator, and that encounter takes place within the created world. Until this religious perspective changes, the plundering and destruction of the natural world will probably continue.

New report details how factory farms have displaced small farmers

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Washington-based Food and Water Watch has released a report titled "Factory Farm Nation: How America Turned Its Livestock Farms into Factories." The report includes a map that pinpoints the areas nationally, by state and county, with the highest numbers of factory farm livestock.

"Between 1997 and 2007, there was a geographic and economic shift in where and how food is raised in the United States," the report states. "Even a few decades ago, there were small- and medium-sized dairy, cattle and hog farms dispersed all across the country. Today, these operations are disappearing. The remaining operations are primarily large-scale factory farms that are concentrated in specific regions, states and even counties where the thousands of animals on each farm can produce more sewage than most large cities, overwhelming the capacity of rural communities to cope with the environmental and public health burdens.

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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