Eat locally to act globally, United Reformed assembly says

By staff writers
July 16, 2008

Members of the United Reformed Church have been asked to look more carefully at what they eat and where they buy, in order to help protect the income and way of life of British farmers.

A move to support farmers and growers who, it has been said, are “often treated unfairly” by supermarkets, received whole-hearted backing from more than 400 people attending the Church’s general assembly, meeting in Edinburgh from 11-14 July 2008.

Church members will be asked to consider what they buy and eat – to use goods that are fairly traded and locally produced as much as possible – to reduce injustice and unfairness.

The assembly, which brings together church members from across England, Scotland and Wales, was told that farmers were going out of business at an alarming rate.

The Rev Janet Flawn, from Northumberland, who is also rural consultant to the Church’s Northern Synod (area) said: “We need to be fair to farmers in our own country, as well as those in other countries”.

Together with other Churches, the United Reformed Church will explore how supermarket policies can be influenced, to reduce “abuse of their powers” in determining prices.

The Rev Graham Jones, national rural officer for the United Reformed Church and the Methodist Church, was among those at the assembly.

Afterwards, he said: “I am delighted by this stand. Churches have been at the forefront of the campaign for fair-trade in developing countries and are now recognising that there needs to be justice in our domestic markets. The two go together; both reflect the necessary move towards valuing our food more highly."

Jones added: “That doesn’t mean simply being prepared to pay more, but taking a greater interest in where food comes from, and how it is produced. Local, seasonal produce will be healthier for us, for our rural communities and for the environment”.

Through a series of unions over the past 35 years, the United Reformed Church has brought together English Presbyterians, English, Welsh and Scottish Congregationalists and members of the Churches of Christ. One hundred thousand people make up its 1,600 congregations, with more than 700 ministers, paid and unpaid.

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