1. Converting to Flourishing: Eco-halal and Eco-Buddhist Farming in Conversation

Tasting Religion - Graham Harvey

Sarah Robinson-Bertoni [+-]
Pacific Lutheran University
Sarah E. Robinson, Ph.D. Resident Assistant Professor of Religion and the Environment, Pacific Lutheran University 2019-22 Lecturer, Santa Clara University 2016-22 Board Member-at-Large, International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture 2022-25 Religion and Food Steering Committee Member, American Academy of Religion 2018-23 Ecology and Religion Unit Chair, American Academy of Religion, Western Region 2010-14, 2016-20 Climate Reality Leadership Corps Member 2018-present Co-editor, Valuing Lives, Healing Earth: Religion, Gender, and Life on Earth (Peeters, 2021)


Recognizing the need for sustainability—a cyclical notion of continual replenishment of natural systems, including human communities, toward mutual flourishing—can be described as a conversion experience, renewing ethical and practical commitments. Converts to agricultural sustainability often recover the notion of inherent value in the beasts, birds, bees, flowers, and food plants, a range of beings morally sublimated in industrial systems where monetary value dominates the agricultural landscape. The author’s U.S.-based case studies display Muslim and Buddhist sustainable agricultural practices highlighting ethically integrated relationships of care, offering a social, economic, and environmental alternative to exploitative industrial agriculture. In Chicago, Taqwa Eco-food Cooperative (2002-2009) provided locally and sustainably produced halal meat, permissible for Muslims. Taqwa leaders educated on integrating ethics with food practice, emphasizing tayyib, or wholesomeness. Taqwa combined ethical reflection with practice improving the health of consumers, lives of animals, livelihoods of farmers, as well as the Muslim prayerful tradition of slaughter, not undertaken lightly. Green Gulch Farm is a part of the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC), which was founded in 1962. Managers and apprentices cultivate several acres facing the Pacific Ocean, producing vegetables for farmer’s markets, local restaurants, and for the SFZC community. In interviews, leaders reflected on sustainable farming and the Buddhist concept of dependent co-arising, dynamic interdependence. Each case study represents a unique context in time, place, and social location, which affords both a strong critique of industrial agriculture and a local-scale alternative designed for mutual flourishing. The case studies demonstrate sustainable, local, religiously oriented projects, producing viable alternatives for food production and distribution. The religious notions of dependent co-arising and tayyib socially support sustainable conversions to concretely care for people, land, water, agricultural ecosystems, and other-than-human living beings eaten as food.

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Robinson-Bertoni, Sarah. 1. Converting to Flourishing: Eco-halal and Eco-Buddhist Farming in Conversation. Tasting Religion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Feb 2024. ISBN 9781000000000. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=44084. Date accessed: 08 Dec 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44084. Feb 2024

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