Mapping the Pantry

by Thomas Kleinert

The sweater I’m wearing today was made in China. My socks in South Korea, pants in Lesotho, shirt in Hong Kong, underwear in Honduras, shoes in Slovenia.

For breakfast I had coffee from Sumatra/Indonesia, milk from Middle Tennessee, cereal from somewhere in the United States, and an apple from New York State. Before I left for work (in a car from Japan), I filled my thermos (made in Nashville!) with tea from India. I’m typing this on a laptop made in Malaysia while listening to music from Italy on a device designed in California and assembled in China.

I’m amazed at how connected my life is with people in so many other places around the world, and how most of the time I’m not aware of that reality.

As part of our hunger:360 ministry project, we invite you to do a little domestic geography and economy research. We call it Mapping the Pantry in phase one, and Mapping a Meal in phase two.

Phase one. Between now and the end of March, take a moment (ideally in the company of all members of your household, especially the children),find a pencil and a piece of paper, and pick up all the food items in your pantry and/or your refrigerator and/or your cupboard, and write down where they came from. List their place of origin as accurately as possible – countries, states, and cities.

Phase two. This is a very similar research project.  Between now and the end of March, choose a meal and write down where all its ingredients came from, again, as accurately as possible (the honey in my tea is from Goodlettsville, depending on how far Mr. Johnson takes his beehives around Middle Tennessee).

On two Sundays (March 21 and 28) and on the days in between, we will transfer all the results to a couple of maps in our sanctuary, one of the U.S. and one of the world. We want to get a visual impression of just how connected we are with people all over the whole world in the things we eat. We want to create opportunities for questions and wonder.

You can use the form below to report your results, or return one of the “grocery lists” from the hunger:360 bulletin board (these lists will also be available in the Sunday bulletins). Better yet, bring your list to worship on March 21 or 28, and transfer the results to the maps yourself!