The 13th anniversary of the World Day for Cultural Diversity was celebrated in Expo Milano 2015 by inviting religions to participate in a debate on the theme of food. During the meeting organized in the Theatre at the Centre of the Earth in the Biodiversity Park, each speaker illustrated their thoughts on the themes of food production and consumption and on the protection of the Planet. Then, each one blessed the meal, in their own particular way.
Today's event aimed to demonstrate that cultural biodiversity (in this case the type specific to the various religious traditions) is also a valuable resource that we should strive to use as effectively as possible.
And now, precisely when scientific knowledge is offering us such a wide range of choices, this is the right moment for cultural and religious traditions to help us out. Indeed now, as we are faced with so many choices and opportunities, it becomes essential for us to have clear ideas about who we are: only by knowing ourselves and our values well that we enable us to succeed in making the right choices that allow us to design the world we desire.
Comparing different elements causes several basic principles to emerge
Comparing different religious traditions immediately demonstrates that there are some basic principles common to everyone, and that they should not, under any circumstances, be taken for granted.
For example, regarding the procedures we should use to produce food that nourishes us, all the religions agree that the Earth was given to us to safeguard and preserve, and not so that we could take advantage of it and strip it of its resources. Therefore, agriculture and productive processes should always respect nature's regenerating cycles and minimize the chemical agents and substances that lead to the impoverishment of the Earth in the long term.
The ideas about how we raise animals are also very clear: our objective must be to avoid violence, and favor an attitude of respect and gratitude. If these concepts were to be applied to reality, we would certainly witness a revolution in all the production chains.
The approach is not ideological, the solutions are concrete
The unexpected gift we receive from a quality inter-religious debate is the realization that our approach is never ideological and that our directions are very concrete: the Islamic concept of "integral" food that must not corrupt the earth or men, is also reflected in the practical indications of Judaism (according to which, it is forbidden to plant vines and corn near one another; and in fact is an action that impoverishes the land) and can also be found across the other traditions.
When the theme is food waste, the game becomes easy. If religions were to lay down the law, it would be easier to recover food not sold by supermarkets and shops that would otherwise be wasted. (the same food that organizations such as Food Banks working hard to collect).