Often as a part of our before dinner prayer I include a request to, "bless all the hands that brought this food to our table." When I started saying the words I didn't stop to think about what they really meant. I suppose I thought about farmers, ranchers, and grocers but it wasn't until about a week ago that I began breaking the process of food down further.
I really like the bucolic simplicity of eating farm to table but, my reality is, we are a busy suburban family that takes advantage of processed foods. I don't make my own bread from wheat I grew then ground into flour, nor do we have meat only when our livestock is grown and ready for butchering. When the option is available I always prefer to purchase food for my family as close to where it was grown as possible. However - after a quick look through our cupboards I found items produced and shipped from all over the world including Canada, England, Sweden, Vietnam, and Thailand. We buy national brand foods particularly cereals, snack foods, and condiments and weave them into a diet of commercially grown produce, meat and dairy products.
So, what does it mean to pray for "all the hands that brought this food to our table?"
I do believe that first and foremost it means the growers, the shippers and the distributors. Many of those companies have recognizable public images created by marketing and advertising agencies so I am praying for them as well.
I watch television and listen to the radio where there are commercials for the national brand companies and the grocery stores I shop in. Those commercials may influence my purchases, so I am praying for script writers, actors, directors, editors, sound technicians, lighting and camera operators, cable companies, radio stations, electronics manufacturers, and others working in communications.
Looking further, there are the agencies who's job it is to regulate growing, packaging, shipping and selling, so when I pray for our food I am also praying for the USDA, FDA, EPA, customs agencies, lawyers, PR firms, lobbyists, and even some politicians.
The web of people who have a hand in what arrives on our dinner table is more complicated than a family tree. Layers and layers of millions of individuals with direct or indirect influence over our food. I will continue to include all of them in my mealtime prayer. I am usually the last hand between my family and the food we eat but I absolutely couldn't do it alone.