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5 Thoughts From Pope Francis on Feeding the World

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Pope Francis I, here greeting people at his weekly audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican in May 2013, is a vocal advocate of social justice, including food justice.

Even though my suggested hashtag for the Pope’s visit to Washington, #TheHolyDSee, is sadly not in heavy rotation, I’m still excited for his arrival Tuesday. And not because of the specialty beers or the “Pope Specials” at restaurants whose reach doesn’t extend beyond low-hanging fruit.

I’m excited because Pope Francis I’s relationship to food goes far beyond “Popecorn” sold in little paper hats to people lined up along his motorcade route. He has spoken publicly and repeatedly about healthy food access and the “scandal” of hunger and malnutrition (which are different things—people can be obese and malnourished). It should not come as a surprise that a Christian leader would call hunger a scandal. After all, Christian churches’ stated goal is to be like Jesus, who famously fed 5,000 people at a hilltop peace rally (and a pescetarian diet of loaves and fishes at that).

Even thought he’s been Pope for only two and a half years, Francis has made a bigger splash to date than many popes during their decades-long service. You don’t have to be a Catholic to care about what he calls the “paradox of abundance,” where we make enough food but not everyone can eat, just as one doesn’t have to be a Tibetian Buddhist to agree with some of the Dalai Lama’s ideas. These quotes are calls to action—thoughts and meditations on the future of food and what can happen if we pay attention … and what may happen if we don’t.

  1. “Our grandparents used to make a point of not throwing away leftover food. Consumerism has made us accustomed to wasting food daily and we are unable to see its real value. Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of the poor and hungry.” June 5, 2013
  1. “The first concern for all of us when considering food production is the human person and all those who are victims of hunger.” May 1, 2015
  1. “It is a well-known fact that current levels of production are sufficient, yet millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation. This is truly scandalous.” June 20, 2013
  1. “[We can] give a voice to those who suffer silently from hunger, and this voice can become a roar that shakes the world. This campaign is also an invitation for all of us to become more conscious about our food choices, which often lead to waste and a poor use of the resources available to us. It is also a reminder to stop thinking that our daily actions do not have an impact on the lives of those who suffer from hunger firsthand.” December 19, 2013
  1. “We need to find ways to all benefit from the fruits of the earth, not only to avoid the widening gap between those who have more and those who must be content with the crumbs, but above all because it is a question of justice, equality, and respect for every human being.” June 20, 2013