Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Darryl A. Smith
© 2009 Katherine M. Dutcher
The industrial food production system is a head-on collision of ecology, morality, and human health, and their respective bodies of earth, animal and human. This thesis is an attempt to grapple with that damage from a theological perspective. What would it mean for a theology to answer to the degradation of American soil that sustains nothing but oil-drenched monoculture? to the horrifying conditions under which we as a nation raise, feed, and slaughter the animals for our consumption? to the dizzying array of food-related diseases that now affect our country in staggering frequency, particularly among lower socioeconomic classes? And what would that theology look like in the real world? The first chapter of this thesis surveys the damage done to earth, animal and human bodies by the industrial food system. A discussion of corn, the backbone of the entire system, and its effects on the land leads into a discussion of corn-fed animals and the conditions under which they live. In the final section, some of the health effects directly traceable to eating industrial food are overviewed. The second chapter highlights and examines three groups of people who, often for theological reasons, are growing food in alternative ways: ways that not only do not harm bodies, but sustain them and help them to thrive. The third chapter is a set of theological reflections on the first two, in which I try to pin down some essential theological differences between the first two chapters, and bring in theologians who are helpful in this enterprise. The four theological points I discuss are taking bodies seriously, a panentheistic approach to the world, interrelatedness and the presence of complexity, and mutuality and relational power.
Dutcher, Katherine M., ""The Earth Nourishing Itself": Bodies and Theology in American Food Production Systems" (2009). Pomona Senior Theses. 36.