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Southern Church Hosts 100-Mile Creation Care Potluck Meal

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Do vine-ripened tomatoes make you the envy of neighborhood gardeners? Do you already belong to a Community Supported Agriculture group of farm customers? Why not share your love of homegrown food with the rest of your community?  Maybe you have a new recipe to share?

Local food is regaining popularity for many reasons, one being it just tastes better!  So-called 100-mile potlucks are popping up around the country. Rev. Sharon Youngs said she was impressed by the popularity of one such food and faith event when she lived in Louisville, Kentucky.  Now that she leads the First Presbyterian congregation in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, her new church is hosting a 100-mile potluck on August 18. It’s part of the day’s creation care celebration that includes a public talk by faithful environmentalist Bill McKibben when he visits the area.

The potluck meal is open to anyone in the area, not just church members, and plans are to hold it outdoors on the FPC soccer field along Lafayette Drive. You are encouraged to prepare any food dish that includes at least one ingredient grown within 100 miles.  It can be from your garden, a local farm, or a market that features local foods. You’re welcome to exchange recipes with others or at least jot down the local ingredient(s) you used.

Communities of faith see the fellowship itself to always be a good thing. The meal follows an ecumenical creation care service.  On this day, supporting local farmers while saving fossil fuels used to transport food long distances will tie directly into the creation care message. Rev. Youngs stressed, “As a person of faith, I believe that God created this world, that it is a wonderful, intricate creation and that we’re part of it.  We’ve been charged as stewards of the earth not to abuse it, monopolize or destroy it, but to care for it.”

The creation care festivities culminate with a public talk by best-selling author Bill McKibben, who most recently penned the book Eaarth about the urgency of the climate crisis.  He is scheduled to speak at 7 pm Sunday, August 18 in the Oak Ridge High School auditorium. McKibben is a spokesperson for group, which has been urging divestment in the fossil fuels industry to help reduce the acceleration of climate change.  McKibben’s message stresses moral urgency and points out that human homes, health and lives are already at stake because of climate extremes.

Caring for each other, just being neighborly, is a theme also important to Rev. Youngs on the day of the 100-mile potluck.  Why not food along with faith?  Youngs added, “It really seemed to be the perfect fit for this day.”

Need some ideas on where to find East Tennessee foods?  Here are a few suggestions:

You’ll find Oak Ridge farmers selling fresh foods on Wednesdays and Saturdays on Jackson Square, plus two other markets at West Knoxville churches.  Details at this Farm website.

Market Square Farmers’ Market in downtown Knoxville also offers fresh foods twice per week.

Find organic produce and more at the University of Tennessee Farmers Market on Wednesdays.

Panda Produce is a family-owned small produce market on the west end of Oak Ridge that strives to carry local and regional foods.

Find grass-fed beef, pastured poultry and more at family-run River Ridge Farms.

Special shelf tags help point you to local food picks at Three Rivers Market, a member-owned food co-op.

Think you can’t prepare a dish with one local ingredient? Tomorrow at, I’ll share one dish made with five ingredients grown just in my little garden.

Bill McKibben to visit East Tennessee

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