This is a paragraph from a recent article in Wired. I like Wired and find it helpful for keeping up with technology as it affects society. In this case, though, I’m not helped. I’ll quote the paragraph and then tell you what’s wrong with it.
Attention, Iowa shoppers: If you eat standard supermarket produce, figure an average transport distance of 1,500 miles (and that’s just for stuff grown in the US). Such is the price you pay in cash and carbon emissions — not to mention the tax dollars spent on repairing highways chewed up by behemoth trucks. In general, a longer, more global supply chain is also vulnerable to strikes, gas hikes, political turmoil, and contamination. All so you can eat what you want when you want it.
Do you see what has happened here? Something that is quite remarkable — something that is really good, and a blessing of God — is presented as negative, destructive, and even selfish (“all so you can eat what you want and when you want it”).
In actuality, we should look at these realities and say “what an amazing blessing. This is God’s providence at work to feed His world — and with food that is far better and varied than the nutraloaf he could have gone with if his aim for us was mere nutrition rather than enjoyment and culture.”
The fact that “supermarket produce” is brought from an average distance of 1,500 miles, and that trucks transport it over an incredibly efficient interstate transportation system, and that as a result we get to eat food that we like, and at times that are convenient to us — this is a good thing. It is a blessing. It is not something to be demeaned, as though humans are a plague on the planet. It is a reflection showing us the remarkable goodness of God.
And it is what we pray for when we pray “give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), as Gene Veith points out very effectively in God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life:
When we pray the Lord’s prayer, observed Luther, we ask God to give us this day our daily bread. And he does give us our daily bread. He does it by means of the farmer who planted and harvested the grain, the baker who made the flour into bread, the person who prepared our meail.
We might today add the truck drivers who hauled the produce, the factory workers in the food processing plant, the warehouse men, the wholesale distributors, the stock boys, the lady at the checkout counter. Also playing their part are the bankers, futures investors, advertisers, lawyers, agricultural scientists, mechanical engineers, and every other player in the nation’s economic system. All of these were instrumental in enabling you to eat your morning bagel.
Before you ate, you probably gave thanks to God for your food, as is fitting. He is caring for your physical needs, as with every other kind of need you have, preserving your life through his gifts. “He provides food for those who fear him” (Psalm 11:5); also to those who do not fear Him, “to all flesh” (136:35). And He does so by using other human beings. It is still God who is responsible for giving us our daily bread. Though He could give it to us directly, by a miraculous provision, as He once did fore the children of Israel when He fed them daily with manna, God has chosen to work through human beings, who, in their different capacities and according to their different talents, serve one another. This is the doctrine of vocation.
The way that food is brought “from afar” to people all over the country should not be looked down upon because of the carbon emissions and interstate wear-and-tear it creates. Instead, it should be marveled at as God at work to provide for His creation through the doctrine of vocation.