Chapter 1: Unclean
How do you view food? Is it a necessary evil in life? Is it something that you take pictures of and post on your Facebook or Instagram? Is it something that brings you closer to God and community?
The family table is something I grew up with; dinner was on the table at 5:00pm and you were there. We gathered, set the table, prayed together, ate together and then cleaned up. It was a simple routine in our family, so simple that I think the depth of it was not apparent to me for years. Having sat with my family at the table meant that we talked and shared our day with one another, we argued and we made up, we had to share food and sometimes give up seconds in order to make sure someone else could eat later. It was not always peaceful and I’m sure my parents would argue that at times they weren’t sure it was worth it, but those meals were times of teaching, learning, sharing and loving. I can’t remember all the meals that we ate, but I remember the bonding that happened. Those meals nourished all of us so we could function day to day both physically and emotionally.
Over the years, society has seemed to look at food as the enemy. It’s either “good” or “bad.” I struggled as I went shopping with someone who wanted to focus on healthy eating so they walked the aisles at the grocery store looking for “fat free,” “90 calorie bars,” etc – when did processed, pre-packaged food become healthier than what you can find in the produce section? I was judged because of the amount of sugar in an apple or corn and the fat in milk. I walked away from that day wondering where the world went wrong in how we viewed food when we look at the natural foods God has given us as more harmful that the ones man manufactures. I’m not an expert in food science, but my body tells me that natural foods that God provides make my body much happier and stronger.
One of the things I loved about this book is that it challenged me, but it also validated me. I want to have a healthy relationship with food. I want to eat healthy and I want to enjoy times of indulgence. Food itself isn’t good or bad, but like anything God gives us, we need to be responsible in how we view it and how we use it.
“Food isn’t just about calories and fat, vitamins and minerals, additives and preservatives. It’s about God. It’s about community. It’s about life. Food is one of God’s most precious gifts, a sign of the Lord’s goodness, abundance, creativity, and love. Most important, it’s the very thing that God becomes for us in the Eucharist.
For those reasons and more, food matters. And when we see food for what it really is, life changes. Families change. Communities change. We change.” (page 11)
Do you have family dinners, or does everyone “fend for themselves”?
Do you eat lunch with colleagues or do you eat at your desk?
How do you view food? What do you judge it by?