When I lived in Guatemala I remember that when I said grace before each meal and asked God to bless the hands of the farmers who produced the food on my table, actual faces of people like Rosa farming her peanuts or Ruben harvesting his beans came to mind. Here in the U.S. my mind conjures up the faces of people at summer farmers’ markets selling me their greens and tomatoes.

When the farmers’ markets are closed for the winter, however, I get a very different visual of what or who brings food to my table. Usually I don’t think too much about it before a meal because what comes to mind are images of chicken warehouses, where workers trudge through feathers and bird-droppings to inject birds with antibiotics or migrant farmworkers picking berries in fields without bathrooms, coffee breaks or health care plans; and I admit, I don’t often ask the Creator to bless the combines, fertilizers, irrigation systems and truckers who all play a role in getting my food to the market and eventually to my table.

In the U.S. just about everything we physically need from food to health care is brought to us by corporations. We like to think we are free but corporations daily shape our food choices through packaging, availability and advertising — always the constant advertising! The current food system is fashioned in such a way that it strengthens our relationships with and dependence on corporations. What are we to do? It’s not like we can just stop eating!

Making choices about the food we eat that allow us to conjure up the face of a real farmer or garderner who played a role in putting that food on our table is a great way of deepining our relationships with neighbors, our local community and nature. You can search the internet for local farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture porgrams. And if you are finding that impossible — at the very least — when you say grace before a meal — pray for the people in our food system who do the most arduous, danderous work under the worst conditions all for the sake of corporate profits!