Jesus for Farmers and Fishers: Justice for All Those Marginalized by Our Food System

Jesus for Farmers and Fishers: Justice for All Those Marginalized by Our Food System

Climate disasters, tariff wars, extractive technologies, and deepening debts are plummeting American food producers into what is quickly becoming the most severe farm crisis of the last half-century. Yet we are largely unaware of the plight of those whose hands and hearts toil to sustain us.

Agrarian and ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan--the "father of the local food movement"--offers a fresh, imaginative look at the parables of Jesus to bring us into a heart of compassion for those in the food economy hit by this unprecedented crisis. Offering palpable scenes from the Sea of Galilee and the fields, orchards, and feasting tables that surrounded it, Nabhan contrasts the profound ways Jesus interacted with those who were the workers of the field and the fishers of the sea with the events currently occurring in American farm country and fishing harbors.

Tapping the work of Middle Eastern naturalists, environmental historians, archaeologists, and agro-ecologists, Jesus for Farmers and Fishers is sure to catalyze deeper conversations, moral appraisals, and faith-based social actions in each of our faith-land-water communities.

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  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506465067
  • eBook ISBN 9781506465074
  • Age/Grade Range Adult
  • Dimensions 5.75 x 8.75
  • Pages 196
  • Publication Date March 30, 2021


"Gary Nabhan's work reminds us of what I can describe only as a sort of historical wonder..."

Wendell Berry, author of The Unsettling of America

"Lyricism . . . infuses [Nabhan's] prose, a rhapsody tempered by hard botanical science."

San Francisco Chronicle

"Nabhan's painstaking research has not eclipsed an evident natural knack for storytelling."


"Nabhan teaches ecological lessons to nonscientists through an impressive range of disciplines: ancient history, ethnobiology, paleo-nutrition, ecology, history, anthropology, and more."

Choice Reviews

"A bold, courageous, and utterly original rereading of Jesus's parables that draws us deep into questions of what it means to stand with those struggling with food insecurity, erosion of cultural identity, and spiritual loss. This gifted ethnobotanist, with his eyes wide open, helps us feel anew the pathos and power of Jesus's teachings about food and life and reimagine the world as sacramental."

Douglas E. Christie, PhD, author of The Blue Sapphire of the Mind

"Every page of this fascinating book imbues the Scriptures with smell and taste, a living landscape and rich cultural tradition. Nabhan's gift for telling true stories and his keen insight into the practices of extractive economies then and now open our eyes to the gospel imperative of food justice." 

Ellen F. Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School

"Who better to give us a fresh reading of the Jesus story than one of our leading agrarian writers and practitioners? In Jesus for Farmers and Fishers, Gary Paul Nabhan's vast scientific and agricultural acumen melds with a deep contemplative wisdom. The result is one of the most insightful readings of the Gospels I've encountered, read through the eyes of the very people Jesus served: fishers, farmers, bakers, gleaners, migrant farmworkers. Here is a book for today's food justice movement, and for anyone who hungers for restoration of our lands and our communities."

Fred Bahnson, author of Soil and Sacrament, and founder of the Food, Health, and Ecological Well-Being Program at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity

"I am hungry for this book. Gary Paul Nabhan calls us to discover the tastes, scents, and textures of food in the Gospels and encounter the people who grew it, caught it, and cooked it. Nabhan's work plunges us into the way of Jesus that turns things upside down and inside out. The powerful are brought low and the lowly raised up. As Nabhan digs into the complexity and depth of injustice in Gospel times, we're shown stories that interweave with those of field hands and food service workers who provide our food--at great cost to themselves." 

Anna Woofenden, author of This Is God’s Table: Finding Church Beyond the Walls

"Prepare to be illuminated! Jesus for Farmers and Fishers brims with insights that can only come when you join in one person the world's leading ethnobotanist, a major food justice advocate, and a member of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans. Page after page, Gary Paul Nabhan shows how living closely and practically with land, water, and fellow creatures helps readers appreciate Scripture in ways they never have before."

Norman Wirzba, Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor of Theology, Duke University, and author of Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating

Interviews and Articles

Excerpt on Sojourners: Fishing Against Empire 

Interview on Christian Century: Enthobotanist Gary Nabhan on food justice and Jesus 

Article on Publishers Weekly: New Titles Call Care for Earth a Sacred Act 

Interview on Slow Food Santa Fe 

Article on Eco Farming Daily: Food and Farming Crisis Requires Both Science and Faith 

Interview with Earth & Spirit Center: Life on the Edge: Gary Paul Nabhan on Borders, Margins, Empires, and Wildness