Two articles with different emphases in the Spring 2007 UU World issue show the Unitarian Universalism at a crossroads: “Centered in Gratitude” by Galen Guengerich and “Eating Ethically” by Amy Hassinger. The article by the Rev Galen Guengerich, senor minister of All Souls Church New York City, explains how practicing gratitude can make you a better human being.
The eating ethically article also purports to be about living a more spiritual life. It begins by describing the horrors of industrial agriculture, and recommends eating organic food, grown by subsistence farming instead of modern agriculture, for the sake of the planet. Subsistence farming is backbreaking, mind-numbing labor. The article also fails to note that when everyone ate local organic food, famines were frequent.
Organic food is more expensive because it takes more land and labor to grow a given amount of organic food. The article doesn’t mention people on a budget. Can only the well off be good UUs? Are the tastes of the elite the moral choice?
The article claimed that transportation from a distance increases a food’s carbon footprint compared to local food. I did the math. The food mile fallacy doesn’t take into account the fact that long distance trucks that can transport thirty tons of food compared to a quarter of a ton in a local pickup. The article concludes by dismissing Norman Borlaug and the Green Revolution. Didn’t those billion human beings saved from starvation have inherent worth?
The two articles show the UUA at a crossroads. Should the organization emphasize the personal and spiritual, as in the Guengerich article, or the activist position as in the Eating Ethically article?