August 1: Shared Table XIII, Dishonouring the poor at table.


If there shall come into your assembly a man having a golden ring, in fine apparel, and there shall come in also a poor man in mean attire, and you have respect to him that is clothed with the fine apparel, and shall say to him: Sit thou here well; but say to the poor man: Stand thou there, or sit under my footstool: do you not judge within yourselves, and are become judges of unjust thoughts?

Hearken, my dearest brethren: hath not God chosen the poor in this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him? But you have dishonoured the poor man.

James 2:2-6.

I was struck between the eyes by a restaurant review which described the diners as bravely consuming roasted grasshoppers and silkworms. Where did the chef source them, I wondered. It all sounded like the decadent feasts portrayed in Asterix the Gaul comic books. Then I read an article by Joseph Pons, a student at ICES University in France.1 He writes about quinoa, the so-called super-food.

I had images of acres of the stuff, ripening in Somerset. Wrong! Quinoa comes from Bolivia and Peru and was a staple for poor people, till rising prices meant they had to sell all they could produce and buy rice from Asia to feed their families. Meanwhile, richer Asian people are buying Western agricultural produce.

Quinoa cost forty times the price of wheat in European markets in 2013.

Yes, I tend to think of a global food chain as linking us together for good, but in this case it is not for the good of all. And so far as I know I’ve never eaten quinoa, grasshoppers, or silkworms. But then one of our mottoes here at Agnellus Mirror is ‘Eat whatever they put before you’, (Luke 10:7) so who knows what will be on the menu some day?

Let’s hope it will not be served to us to the dishonour of the producer, and let’s strive to avoid such damaging fads.

text and photo: MMB

Barley in Kent.

1Joseph Pons: L’Avenir commence demain en consummant differement, in La Ruche ICES, 22/5/2017, p10.


Filed under Daily Reflections

2 responses to “August 1: Shared Table XIII, Dishonouring the poor at table.

  1. Do you mean rising Quinoa prices? I would have that would only benefit its producers


  2. Not necessarily: the producers would certainly not receive their fair share of the mark-up, and they would be at the mercy of international cereal price rises on their purchases to a greater extent than we are, who are not living near subsistence level. if we in Europe want more rice, the price goes up across the whole world, not just for us. Any cash profit soon evaporates, unless you have a fair trade set up. Think how many middle men there will be between a Peruvian farm and a London diner’s plate …

    Then, in Laudato Si’ terms, there is the question of the resources used to transport the commodities.

    Again, if they grow more quinoia, what else are they not growing that formed part of their balanced diet before?

    The Peruvian asparagus that appears from time to time certainly WAS grown in a way that deprived subsistence farmers of the water needed for their crops; that may have changed . . . I don’t know the water requirements of quinoia.

    As for importing grasshoppers! That’s not about dining: that’s conspicuous consumption.


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