The Last Supper should be the focus of every meal we prepare and consume, according to the keynote speaker at a Bluffton University-hosted conference on ethical food production.

“Our meals should be framed around the supper of the lamb,” said Ragan Sutterfield, speaking Feb. 19 at the Intercollegiate Peace Fellowship conference. His session on “The Supper of the Lamb: Learning to Eat at God’s Table” was the last of three he addressed during the weekend event.

Answering questions from vegetarians and vegans in his audience if meat should be included in this supper, the writer and cultural critic from Arkansas said “I eat meat and think it should be part of the supper because it has an important part to play in the agriculture system.”

Sutterfield’s final session was based on the book, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection, in which author Robert Farrer Capon suggests sitting down and examining an onion for an hour. By studying an onion—or any other piece of food—before we consume it, we honor its creator, said Sutterfield. “When we pay attention to creation, we honor God,” he noted.

All humans are dependent on each other and on plants, animals and other things in this world, he said, adding that we work to gain everything together—never alone. “We have distinctions, but we are part of a whole life that is bigger than all of us,” Sutterfield said.

“People felt they were exposed to new ideas on how eating is correlated to peacemaking,” said Leah Roeschley, who helped organize the conference as president of Bluffton’s Peace Education and Action Community Endeavor (PEACE) club.

Hesston and Bethel colleges and Eastern Mennonite, Manchester and Huntington universities were among the institutions represented by students at the annual conference, in addition to Bluffton. “I am impressed by the students’ commitment to ICPF,” Roeschley said.

Conference participants screened the documentary film “Food Stamped” and attended workshops about injustices in the American food system and responses to them, as well as a session about genetically modified organisms. The conference also included a concert by the Anabaptist Bestiary Project, a Bluffton-based band, and concluded with a Sunday morning worship service of singing and sharing.  by Ariel Shuey, Bluffton public relations, 2/23/11