Mary examines the social phenomenon of food security and food waste and its root causes. She offers theological reflection with insights from Pope Francis’ recent social encyclical Laudato Si’ and ecofeminist theology and theories. Pope Francis suggests that together with people’s obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly, we are called to recognize that other living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes. However, like deep ecology, Laudato Si’ and other church teachings neglect the crucial role played by patriarchy in shaping the cultural categories responsible for humanity’s domination. Thus, I will employ ecofeminist perspective to enrich my reflection. At the end, she discusses some pastoral responses, with examples in Hong Kong, to transform the oppressive relationships that lead to food waste, showing no respect to the nature and the need of the poor.
Food security and food waste are world issues. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights assures people of right to food and food security in terms of both quantity and quality. However problems like food waste persist. Moreover, food waste produces greenhouse gas emissions, contributes to global warming, etc.
In Hong Kong, despite affluence, many people are poor. There is a problem of food insecurity and much food waste in the landfills. Food safety is another problem in Hong Kong. Alongside this issue, women usually take on part time, low income work. Food safety is also an issue, due to the widespread use of chemicals in food production. Food security must stress components such as production of sufficient amount, distribution, supply, and quality; scarcity is not the main problem, there is enough food to feed the people–what is wrong is that food is wasted and contaminated.
Three points from Laudato Si’ help shed light on the matter. First, there are human roots to the crisis due to human will to power and dominance over nature. There is a technocratic paradigm that tends to dominate economic and political life, that exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. A new way of looking at things, a lifetime, and spirituality that resists this paradigm is needed, according to Pope Francis. Second, Laudato Si’ emphasizes God’s image and the value of each creature. “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it” is a commonly mentioned and used verse from Scripture. LS 69 however states that we also recognize that other beings are also valuable to God. Thus, the entire material universe speaks of God’s love. Thus, and thirdly, an integral ecology is needed. This acknowledges that poverty intertwines with ecological crisis, and that people and the rest of creation are closely connected
From an ecofeminist perspective; however, Laudato Si’ neglects the crucial role played by patriarchialism in shaping the cultural categories responsible for humanity’s problems such as classism, racism, sexism, which are rooted in naturism and specisism. Ivone Gebara’s holistic ecofeminism can serve as a framework to tease out these different themes.
A pastoral response, therefore, as LS 202 particularly points out, necessitates that we human beings above all need to change. Some examples of programs that can respond to the calls of Laudato Si‘ and ecofeminism are Food Angel, Hong Kong Catholic Vegetarians, and the promotion of an alternative simple and green lifestyle.