Real 'Good Food': Ayres explores link between food, faith

By Corey Broman-Fulks | Spirited Thinking | Jan. 22, 2014

Emory's Jennifer Ayres knows good food. For her, it's not just about the taste and presentation but rather the item's history, how it was produced and distributed.

"I'm trying to redefine good food so that it doesn't exclude taste, because that is an important part of it," Ayres says, "but that also includes attention to how the workers are treated, if the farmers are able to make a living, and how people in urban settings are able to get food at an affordable price."

Her new book, "Good Food: Grounded Practical Theology," explores the link between food and faith, a natural for Ayres, director of the Religious Education Program at Emory's Candler School of Theology.

Ayres says the idea for the book came from working with high school students in Candler's Youth Theological Initiative. When students became excited by spending a day gleaning produce from a community garden, Ayres was inspired.

"The book is about people and communities who want to make a response that's faithful to God but also helps human beings and creation," Ayres explains.

Like other religions, Christianity, which "Good Food" mostly focuses on, regularly revolves around a table, the Eucharist, during worship as congregants partake in Holy Communion. Ayres wants readers to understand the connection between that table and every other table where people dine.

"To me, the core moral and faith formation issue is to re-inscribe that sense of interdependence," she says. "I am dependent on the land. I am dependent on workers. We all are woven together in this interdependent network."

This spring, Ayres and Carol Newsom, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament and director of the Graduate Division of Religion, will co-lead a webinar titled "Food and Faith: Eating as a Spiritual Practice," one of a series of free webinars offered by Candler faculty.

View REAL Change: Ayres' 'Good Food' Brings Theology to the Table.