• Learning Objectives
  • Case Study: Guatemalan Palm Oil
  • Food and Science
    • The Ecology of Where Food Comes From
    • Historical Development of Agriculture
      Ecological Impacts of Modern Agriculture
    • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Food and Ethics
  • Food and Spirituality
  • Food and Action
    • Regional Reports
    • Action Ideas
  • Chapter Reflection Questions and Explorations
  • Additional Resources


If you have not done so, please read the Healing Earth Introduction before proceeding through this chapter. The Introduction gives you background terms and explanations necessary for understanding the chapter.

Top photo of a person in a garden; bottom photo inside a grocery store.
For many of us, the sight of food growing in fields is uncommon. This has been replaced by the more common sight of food on a grocery store shelves. 1

In our contemporary world, many urban dwellers are in the habit of thinking that food comes from grocery stores. The global migration of people from rural to urban areas has separated millions of us from the routine sight of crops growing in fields and animals feeding in pastures. In this Food Chapter, you are encouraged to bring fields and pastures into your imagination. This is an important first step for understanding food from an ecological perspective.

This chapter begins by explaining key concepts of food science. It then moves to a discussion of ethical foundations and norms that should guide how we grow, transport, process, market, consume and dispose of food. A unique feature of each Healing Earth chapter is an exploration of environmental spirituality. In this chapter, you will explore spiritual meanings that human beings have given to food production and consumption since ancient times. Finally, the chapter highlights actions currently being taken around the world to improve food availability, quality, and sustainability.