9 Tips for Eating Christianly

For the last 10 months I’ve been writing a book about Christian approaches to consuming culture, and one of the things I discuss in the book is food. How can Christians be better consumers of food? It’s a topic pertinent to anyone of faith (we all eat), but maybe not one that is discussed as much as it should be (though a number of great books have been exploring it of late–such as this, this, and this.)

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Fourth Consideration: Food.

My holiday meals have been described as "foo-foo."  Our brussel sprouts with blue cheese and bacon, two kinds of stuffing, a brined organic turkey.  The triumph was last year's Thanksgiving - making 13 dishes from scratch.  It was a far cry from Stoffer's stuffing and green bean casserole.

I don't say this to alienate, segregate, or manipulate.  We cook this way because first and foremost, I have a soy intollerence, and almost every preservative laden food has soy in it.  If I chose the convenient way, I would be sick almost every day. It's amazing how for so long I chose to live with a stomach ache thinking it was normal.  Secondly, the food made with our hands just tastes better.  As declared on Facebook last night - I'm obsessed with cauliflower.  I used to hate it, but people like Molly Wizenberg taught me how to caramelize it ... there is no going back to ranch dip and dried out veggie trays.

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Food, Thanksgiving, Shabbat

A major biblical theme as it relates to food is thanksgiving for God’s provision. One of the most interesting food-related stories in Scripture is the miraculous appearance of manna each morning for the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness (Exodus 16:4). That they gathered only enough for one day on each morning demonstrated the extent to which they had to trust and depend on God’s faithfulness. For them, the manna was a very tangible, honey-tasting reminder of why eating food is an act of thanksgiving.

Frequently in scripture, thanksgiving manifests itself through celebration and feasting on food. In the Old Testament, meals were often events that symbolized the ratifying of an agreement. After Isaac and Abimelech made a covenant of peace, Isaac “made them a feast, and they ate and drank” (Gen. 26:30). Similar feasts happened after Jacob and his father-in-law made an agreement of peace (Gen 31:54), or when David and Abner patched things up at Hebron (2 Sam 3:20).

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Some Thoughts on Taste

Chicago pizza, where you truly have the option of either an uncut sausage patty or more commonly seen, sausage pieces, covering your pie, is something I can eat most days of the week. I have fond memories of sitting in Uno’s downtown or at Gino’s East a couple streets over or at Giordano’s. In our world of health conscious, obesity fighting, fitness crazed professionals, why then do I like it?

The answer is simple: it tastes really good.  Think then how incredibly powerful our sense of taste is and how incredibly influential our appetites are. If you’ve traveled at all, you’ve tasted different things and some agreed with you, while others did not. Mind you, taste is something very important to us and I dare say, it feeds our subconscious (pun intended) in ways we haven’t thought.

Theology of Food, or Why Eating is Good for our Souls

I have been reading through the book Distracted by Maggie Jackson.  In it, she talks a lot about our culture and what has caused us to not be focused.  Looking at media, busyness, etc. and exposing some of the perils in how we currently live.  It is a fascinating book and very thought provoking.  

In this book, one of the things that has struck me as I read the last couple of chapters is how the way we eat both mirrors our lives and influences our lives.  She quotes a recent study at UCLA that states that only 17% of families sit down regularly for meals.  17%.  That is a very small number.

She also talks about the way foods are now prepared and “designed”.  The makers of food have changed their approach to food.  Rather than fresh food, that can be messy and must be eaten with a fork while sitting at a table, food makers/preparers are opting to do away with the fork in favor of food that can be eaten with the hands, but that is not messy enough to get on our clothes.
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Vulnerable Post

Today I was keenly aware of the scene from Julie and Julia where Julie comes home from a bad day at work and says that even though she’s had a bad day she knows if eggs and flour and chocolate are whisked together you will get a decadent dessert.

My life has been that way as of late. Potholes have met me every other day just when I thought the path was paved ahead. This is not a sob story, but rather a time when I am trying to cling to what I know, which is that if I string words together, it might make a little more sense to me. And I like to share, my heart and my food. Instead of chocolate cake tonight it was cilantro, mint, and shredded carrots. It was ground lamb in my cast iron pan and a quick round of cous cous. It was lemon, shallots, and Mediterranean olives. And I looked like Golem eating it in the corner of our living room by myself. It was missing something though. So I took it back to the kitchen and threw in my favorite spice: cumin. Ah yes, that was it, and I longed to find the “cumin” to fill in the potholes of this New Year.

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Mom was right! Vegetables are good for you!

Each weekday morning, I read through a summary of the days top humanitarian news stories via Reuters AlerNet. The top stories are typically depressing and a daily reminder of how sick our humanity is and our planet is. People are sick, hungry, killing each other and in complete desperation all over the globe.

This morning I was pleased to read a story of hope. Women are farming vegetables and it's changing the world!

Farming vegetables is changing family dynamics, economics, health and even the climate. I was so encouraged by this story I wanted to share it with you. What are your thoughts on this? How can we help encourage this to continue to grow here at home and in the developing world? 

Here is the article:

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Tonight, two of my kids went to bed hungry by their own choice.  Two of my kids complained.  Two of my kids got in trouble and went to bed early.

A few minutes ago, one of them got up and told me, "Dad, I'm Starving."

I explained to her how blessed we are, and that this is one of the reasons that mom and I will not tollerate complaints about food.  I explained that we have so much, and that there are starving children in the world that literally have not enough to eat.

She asked for pictures.

Here are a couple of them I found quickly on google.  My daughters face hard with stubbornness quickly changed to a face of compassion.  She began to ask questions.  The first one was, "why don't their parents just get them some food, or go hunt for some?"  I tried to explain, but words seem futile while looking at these pictures.  She went on to ask more questions about the inequality of food distribution.  

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Finding God in My Chipotle Chicken Burrito (and chips)

“Good is in the details.”

Two of my great passions in life are Chipotle Chicken Burritos and those tasty lime chips. I love them. I dream of them. Frankly, I crave them.  I owned a surf photographry and media business that for one summer several years back got me FREE chipotle.  Yes.  FREE.  And it was Good.

A while back (which I remembered earlier this week) I was eating at Chipotle and one of the staff was wearing a t-shirt that had the following statement on the back:

Good is in the details.

I love it. It is a great business and life mantra. I am constantly talking to various groups about detail execution, following through on the little things, focusing on the small stuff. Good can be found in a lot of places, but it is definitely found in the details of who we are, what we do, and how we do it. In almost every respect, ideas are big but execution is small.

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What Would Jesus Eat? Eschatology and Food Choices

There are many followers of Christ in this world who don't think much, if at all, about the connection between their food choices and their theology.  For many of these, there's a good chance they'll be eating a big slab of meat tonight, cooked over a fire, complemented by a pesticide laced salad, enhanced by an Italian Red, and washed down with coffee that was utterly affordable thanks to the rainforest that was cleared to increase the crop size.  None of these foods are seen as making a statement about their faith, but I'd argue that they do.  If I thought it was all going to burn up, especially in the near term (as I've been told it will, any day now, for the past 35 years), I'd join them in buying the most food for the least money.

Instead, I'll be having a slab of meat, a salad, red wine, and coffee, just like them, except utterly different. My meat will be grass fed, my salad organic and local, my wine from a local winery, and my coffee shade grown.  That is, at least, what I'll be eating when my food choices match my theology.  Believing that God's people are called to make God's good reign visible here and now in some small measure means that I need to make choices that exalt health, justice, and ecology (among other things) in all areas of my life, including "what's for dinner?"

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