Jesus, Bread and Chocolate

JBC

In his engaging and well-crafted book, Jesus Bread and Chocolate, John Thompson weaves into a memoir of his interesting life a look at the surging appeal of “artisanal movements,” evidenced by increasing appreciation of such things as locally-grown food, hand-crafted specialty breads, chocolates and beer. He sees in these movements a cultural yearning for high-quality, ethically-produced alternatives to the industrialized mass-produced products that are predominant in our culture (and that he sees reflected in many expressions of contemporary Christianity), and he calls upon the Church to reflect the values and ethics of these artisanal movements, rather than those of the industrialized economy. In a society that increasingly finds church irrelevant, this is a message that should resonate with many these days.

The author doesn’t presume to map out specifically what artisanal church (my words, not his) would look like. Rather, he shares his own fascinating journey from an impoverished and often terrifying childhood into the world of indie music, then eventually into an appreciation of good coffee, food, beer, and bread, and ultimately into an awareness that the evangelical world is largely imitating the industrial model, which many are finding to be unsatisfying, rather than gravitating toward the artisanal model, which he finds more compelling.  I learned a lot about coffee, beer and bread, and the author’s life story makes this book a page-turner.

Full disclosure: the chapter on local food features our farm and quotes me a lot.  I met John Thompson at the Wild Goose Festival a few years ago, when he was just beginning to work on the book. When he asked if I would allow him to use my thoughts on the local food movement (and our motives) I was happy to agree. My comments in the book will be recognizable, of course, to readers of this blog.

I’d never given much (if any) thought to how our society’s desire for high-quality locally-grown food might be related to other rising artisanal movements. Connecting them, as John has in this book, makes good sense to me now. The yearning for authenticity in our society goes much deeper than just a desire for good vegetables.

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19 comments on “Jesus, Bread and Chocolate

  1. BeeHappee says:

    And most importantly, in addition to quality, is the connection to the maker, the artisan, the community. There is a huge difference purchasing honey from a local bee keeper, when you had toured their farm, know all about their life’s journey, vs buying some ‘honey’ at Walmart imported from China. We have these chocolate festivals at the famous Morton Arboretum here every February, and you get to meet a lot of local specialty chocolate makers. Last year we got to talk to a 14 year old girl who started her own business and was selling some really amazing chocolates. The stories behind those products only make them taste so much better. 🙂
    Hope you are having a good market day!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Bill says:

      Great point Bee and I entirely agree. We had a great day at the market. Not only did we sell out again, but just as importantly we had lots of great conversations with people who value knowing the people who grow the food they eat. One of the slogans we like to promote is “Shake the hands that feed you.” There is a story behind all food. We’re finding that people want to know that story.

      Liked by 1 person

      • BeeHappee says:

        Bill, “Shake the hands that feed you”, I like that, I will steal that for one of my posts one day. 🙂
        We checked out a new farmers market today, French market actually, so it was huge farmers and artisan market, and so busy, thousands of people must have gone through it. One of those days we will make to Madison WI market which is good for organic produce. For now, our summer Saturday tradition is farmers markets, we love the people, the music, kids pet all the dogs, old people love to talk to kids, kids get peaches and berries and sugar snap peas, a crepe or paella, or chocolate croissant from a monastery bakery.. and get to see what kohlrabi is. 🙂

        One thing that I noticed and like is the increasing number of young people working at both farms and farmers markets – many high school and college kids. We had gone to farmers markets for many years, and I notice an increase in youth, which is encouraging, in fact I am seeing many people replacing Mexican farm labor at least around here that I had seen.

        Thanks to you and Cherie for all the work you are doing. I will check out her book one day for sure. I am still trying to picture Bill the lawyer, the picture of before and after, farming. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  2. ain't for city gals says:

    This makes perfect sense to me….these giant mega churches with Starbucks etc. are obscene to me and a complete turnoff. Thanks to Cherie I am reading more and more about living the Quaker life and I like what I am reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I really like the Quaker ethos, captured in the acronym SPICE: Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality.
      I shared your comment with Cherie and it made both of us smile. 🙂

      Like

  3. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, wow, it appears that you are having a greater influence that you think. I’m always amazed when people throw things back at me that I’ve said months or years before that have influenced their lives. Some I don’t even remember saying and other things I remember but really didn’t put any significance to it. Words spoken or written are indeed mightier than a sword and longer lasting. An encouraging word or an injury from words can linger for years. White Flint Farm is more than just growing vegetables for a Farmer’s market but instead is an inspiring educational movement idea in practice. I know you and Cherie have inspired me to a higher level of gardening in my small niche in the world. Thank you for not only sharing the highlights of market gardening but also the disappointments and disasters of gardening in the face of weather, wild life, and many other challenges. It gives me hope and encouragement that I’m not alone in the struggles of gardening. So, I’m grabbing my hoe, spade, weed whacker, and mattock and heading out to Terra Nova Gardens for some quality time murdering weeds. 🙂

    Have a great being quoted in a new book day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Thanks for the encouragement Dave. We include education as one of our core missions. I’ve been pleased at how well our message has been received over the past couple of years. I think John Thompson did a great job of capturing what we’re about in his book.

      Like

  4. avwalters says:

    I see it as a modern day version of the Arts and Crafts movement, which was an artistic and craft response to the ravages of the Industrial Revolution.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      Yes, that’s it, exactly! And in the “Back to the Land” movement of the 60 & 70’s as well…

      Liked by 2 people

    • Bill says:

      That’s an excellent observation! I’ve heard comparisons to the Back to the Land movement, but never to the Arts and Crafts Movement. I’ve argued that the food movement is a response and reaction to the rise of industrial food, but I’ve never tied in all these other artisanal movements.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Interestingly, I’m reading a biography of the explorer Freya Stark and as I was reading last night I came across a reference to William Morris, described as “one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts Movement.” Until your comment, I couldn’t have told you what that movement was.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve thought a lot about the phenomena of hand crafted cheese, beer, chocolate, bread, coffee, wine and other products over the past several years, Bill. It’s extensive here in southern Oregon. Like you, I see hope for our future in it. –Curt

    Like

    • Bill says:

      I’m encouraged by it too. Oregon was on board early, but these movements are sweeping the land now. They are evidence of a desire for something industrialization can’t provide.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. EllaDee says:

    Transactional life, tit for tat exchange regardless if we are the provider or consumer is hollow whatever the medium. For it to have real value it needs to have an at least an element of meaningful and personal. Even the Big Supermarkets do it as value-adds. The G.O. rarely sets foot in a supermarket and tells me he’s not a foodie… but he adds at least an hour to my farmers markets shopping as he chats to stall-holders and buys their produce. Same when we’re in the country and do the rounds for local favourites.
    Another book to add to my loooong list.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      Our farmers market seems to be drawing a bigger crowd every weekend. My mother came Saturday (for the first time this year) and ended up staying over 2 hours thanks to conversations with people she knows and with vendors. That doesn’t happen at a supermarket. Its community building I think.

      Like

  7. looks like I placed my amazon order too early! I wish I had seen this post and added this book to my order when I purchased Cherie’s cookbook! You are becoming quite the famous farmer!
    Still looking forward to the publication of your book.

    Like

    • Bill says:

      I told Cherie that you ordered the book and she was very pleased. She’s been surprised at how many people have bought it. It’s a modest project but she spent a lot of time on it to try to make it look good. I hope you enjoy it!

      As for my book, thanks. I’m buried in farm work this time of year but having to do a lot on the book too. We’re in the copy editing stage and now they’ve asked me to prepare an appendix with a list of resources (websites, books, movies, etc) by next week. Meanwhile last night I received the rough cut videos to review–not an easy task out here in the land of no high speed internet. I really want the book to be good. I’d like it to be good enough to give me an opportunity to write another one–aimed at a broader audience. It’s exciting, but a bit nerve-wracking at the same time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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