A standard of quality

Eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.

Could this be a parallel issue today–?


Confession: I watch with unease our growing obsession with purebred ingredients. Unease, I say—not because healthy eating is a bad trend; on the contrary, it’s a beautiful, valid, necessary corrective for this herd of overfed, overindulged, lazy Americans—myself included. What I’m concerned about is the unfortunate side effect: the politically correct right and determination to eat only what I feel like eating, and turn up my nose at everything I consider subpar.

If you don’t serve me the best, the most kosher, I am entitled to preach the gospel: to tell you to your face exactly how bad it is for me, and the healthier way I would have made it. I will tell others what you served me, and snicker.

Premise 1: Nowadays, what we eat is again becoming more important than how we love.

I notice the lines are no longer drawn along “wholesome” and “unwholesome,” but along the strictest standards of quality and snobbery. Apples are no longer good enough unless they are organic. Eggs are no longer good enough unless they are EB. Water is no longer good enough unless it is treated, purified.

What did Paul mean when he said Eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience?

He went further. Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of
conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

Now what do you make of that?

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Mom Coblentz
11 years ago

Uh-oh…NOW you’ve opened a can of worms…and I can’t wait to see what all crawls out!!!
Just so you know, I’m with you.

11 years ago
Reply to  Mom Coblentz

Yes, but are they fair-trade, organic, non-GMO, free-range worms or the other kind?

11 years ago
Reply to  The Boss

Um. Just so everyone knows, I may be the boss, but I am not responsible for NtB’s comments on this blog. He runs his own ship. Into icebergs.

Love you, you crazy.

11 years ago

There is much wisdom and food for thought in this line – “Nowadays, what we eat is again becoming more important than how we love.” As a nutritional guru i have thought much along these lines and take joy in receiving with thanksgiving anything that is set before me. My thoughts go in two directions:

1. Relationships with people are immensely more important than the food that goes into or does not go into my mouth. Amazingly research shows that one’s inflammatory response fluctuates based on our perception of our connection or lack of connection with other people. The immune system of people who feel they are alone and isolated is constantly on high alert this contributes to constant low-grade inflammation and poor immune response when there is a real threat. The inflammatory immune response is a primary reason to avoid “bad” foods like refined oils and choose “good” foods like free range eggs. But connection with other people may have as much or more of an impact. Love well, to be well – and sometimes that means putting food into one’s mouth that is less than the best.

2. Community response to people with food sensitivities or intolerances. Casien (from dairy) and Gluten (from grains) and other proteins can cause an immune system response (immediate or chronic) or act as opiates on the brain if the individual is unable to digest them due to the lack of certain specific enzymes (genetic or other) or because of a leaky gut these undigested proteins escape into the bloodstream. Is there grace for gluten free bread at communion? If we cook everything with wheat and milk can we judge when these people are unable to receive our community potluck food with thanksgiving? Most times a lack of coming alongside these people has to do with a lack of understanding the problem. do we need to understand before we can extend grace? To love is to seek to understand.

Thank you for bringing this topic to the table,

11 years ago
Reply to  Rosanna

I really like your thoughts! I am gluten free, and try to be as little trouble as possible for everyone around me, but it makes it so much easier on me if people are understanding instead of critical. I really am not making this thing up! On the other hand, I have seen people with food allergies make their hostess very uncomfortable because she did not have the right things on the table for them, or did not know about the allergy until she was informed as they sat down to eat. Understanding is needed on both sides.

Alvin S
11 years ago

First, let me say that I’m not “one of those people”. I don’t give a hoot about organic/BPA/whatever.

Second, I would see someone who is openly disdainful of food offered to them that doesn’t meet these standards as being arrogant and less-than-charitable. One of the specific interpersonal skills that my father taught me, at a young age, is that when you are in a social situation, especially with strangers, and you are offered food, you accept it, whether you like it or not. You are doing it for their benefit, and to build social connection, not for your benefit.

A few more thoughts (at no additional charge):
We live in a created world that was perfect in its original form. Then sin entered the picture, and a lot of things changed. The things we eat still come from God, but because of sin and the curse, some level of work is involved to make them useful/palatable.

Water often needs to be filtered/treated to some degree. Wheat and other grains have to be ground up to make them edible and useful to our bodies. Meat comes from animals that have to be slaughtered first, then processed to some degree.

It seems to me that purebred foodies at some level are trying to return food to its original perfect, unstained form. And sorry folks, it’s not happening.

We aren’t going to experience that kind of perfection this side of heaven. To apply the verse above, God is saying “It’s not perfect, but that’s OK. It’s good on its own, and good enough for now. Just wait until you get to My table.”

(Yes, I think God will serve more than just milk and honey at His table)

11 years ago

I can’t believe you are addressing this subject. I have a series of posts all ready on
just this topic!

Hope you write more!

11 years ago

Food allergies–entirely different horse than just prefering organic/non-GMO etc. I choose to do organic as much as I can because we do notice a difference. I also choose to avoid GMO as much as I can because the reports of other countries who have tried to honestly test and study it (such as Russia) are truly appalling. We SHOULD be concerned about GMO and attempt to minimize or eliminate our exposure to it. However, having said all that, I am not going to go to someone’s house or the church potluck and interrogate them about the contents of the food EXCEPT as I need to to keep my 3 allergic kiddos safe . . . GMO/Organic/Non-Organic doesn’t even enter into the quizzing or discussion–only the food allergies. I can’t afford the pain/medical bills for the kiddos who get sick from the food they are allergic to. Since 3 of them have dairy allergies, and one has a wheat AND dairy allergy, pot-lucks, invitations to others homes etc. are not that fun . . . and it has truly limited our interactions with others way more than I would have liked. I hope when we get to heaven I will either understand that or else not care any more. (Probably not care any more. . . . 😉 )

Alvin S
11 years ago

I should temper my comments by saying that I understand food allergies to be a different matter.

My heart goes out to those who deal with allergies, especially in their children. And we tend to tie food and fellowship so closely, that I can see how it can make relationship-building difficult in a church setting.

11 years ago

I think the food issue is painful because we prepare food for others as a gift of love. When our gift is received with disdain or horror, we feel shamed. I agree that we need to be kind and understanding, regardless of our personal opinions about food.

11 years ago

Hi Shari,

I would love to hear more of your story regarding this controversial topic you have brought up. What prompted you to blog about this? What has your experience been?

Confession: I hate the stereotype that has been posted on people who eat healthy.

Some people eat healthy for medically-related reasons.

Premise #2:
Many people who eat “healthy” do it out of discipline, and actually love eating “junky” (I hate all these generalities). (Eating healthy is a.l.o.t. of hard work…unless you’re rich!)

Premise #3:
Many people who eat “healthy” are not just jumping into a trend, but have actually researched food, food in the 21st century, the effects of food on our bodies, etc. and have come to making more healthy-related choices based on things they have learned, in care of their bodies.

Premise #4:
Many people who have made a decision to eat “healthy” never think judgmentally about the choices of others to eat…refined sugar, or tap water, or etc.

You said, “What I’m concerned about is the unfortunate side effect: the politically correct right and determination to eat only what I feel like eating, and turn up my nose at everything I consider subpar.”

This is an issue. I myself have experienced this. I remember that time my dear, busy mama opened her home for three weeks to a very healthy family from Texas and I remember the pressure my mother felt every time she had to cook a meal. Her efforts to create good food never measured up and the three weeks of fellowship ended up strained because of this. I remember being so angry at our guests, because my mother tried awfully hard to make food that would satisfy their taste buds.

You said: “Premise 1: Nowadays, what we eat is again becoming more important than how we love.”

And I find it ironic, how this is true of the right and the left. I have made choices in my diet and begun eating differently than I ever have before, due to the reasons mentioned previously in Premise 1-3, and I have been amazed at how my personal food choices and change in diet have been critiqued and criticized with just as much snobbery as what my mother experienced from her uber-healthy guests.

I have been in many situations where someone has asked me about my dietary changes or my foodie research, and I have felt extremely awkward because I am sensing that those around me overhearing are uncomfortable and sometimes even annoyed. I have often felt judged for my “style of eating”, and feel very limited freedom to talk about my ideas. This should not be so.

I endeavor to be full of grace. I have seen the destruction of health foodie snobbery and I despise it. I never want such to be said of me. At the same time I lobby for grace on the other side. Some people avoid chemically manufactured foods (for example) for the sake of their health, or out of conscience or belief…and it is just as ungracious to scoff at that.

I hope I am making sense. I have been severely distracted while writing this response. 🙂

Grace and peace!

11 years ago
Reply to  Renee

Thanks for the thoughts, Renee. You made sense. 🙂

I like having the space to offer my perspective on current issues I care about, but I also welcome differing perspectives. Each of us brings something to this conversational table, and I want you to know I respect what you offered.

11 years ago
Reply to  Renee

you said so much of what i would want to say so well and gracious too. Growing up in a family that ate “healthily” we tried to serve food that our guests would like alas our taste buds and theirs were so different. we learned what to serve and what not to serve but what do you do when you have short notice guests and discover you don’t have any store bought snacks or cake made without wholewheat flour in the house. so we served what we had and at times were surprised at people’s delight in our food and other times disappointed that though they were quiet about it, we could tell they didn’t like it.

LaDonna Nice
11 years ago

I’m glad you wrote about this. I believe in eating healthy. However, I’ve also not been overly impressed with some that go all natural for some of the reason’s you wrote. The other thing that turns me off about it is that in many cases it feels like an obsession. In other cases it feels like the thing to do, and I’m kind of a rebel when it comes to peer pressure 😉 Also, in my own research I’ve found some things about “organic” food, that makes me wonder of its value…but we won’t go there, 😉

Actually, I think love and grace could be increased on both sides of the aisle.

Maybe the reason we (I) struggle with this among us ladies is due to our (my) competitiveness and insecurities. For some reason it’s hard for us to say she chooses to eat this way and I choose to eat differently, bless her for her choice and bless me for mine 😉

11 years ago
Reply to  LaDonna Nice

Maybe the reason we struggle with this among us ladies is due to our competitiveness and insecurities…

I agree.

11 years ago
Reply to  Renee

Wow…what an interesting read! Shari, I love reading your writings and thoughts. I’m not a writer but just felt an urge to express my opinion on this.
I’m a mom who tries to cook healthy as I feel it is part of my responsibility as a mom to their health. However, I think the two most important points to apply are the ones about Love IS more important than what you eat. Scripture tells us that it is not what enters the body that defiles a man, but that which comes from within, out of the heart. Mark 7:18 -23 are pretty helpful on this subject I think. To me relationships are far more important than the amt. of calories something has, whether its cooked w/ whole grain, w/ added flax seeds, or made w/ unrefined sugar. However, putting relationships first and what benefits the other also then means when there is a known allergy, health situation in your house or being served it is required by the hostess thru love to be sensitive to the best of her ability to cater to that need.
The second point I most agree with is the comment Renee made that the struggle is most due to our need for security, acceptance and competence. Its very intimidating to a non-researching mom like me to hear when someone’s meal is made all-organic and all-natural and processed-free. And I then struggle w/ feeling like an unfit mother who needs to change, then I go back to who I am in Christ and what is the important thing on judgement day. (for whatever its worth)….

11 years ago

I what a painful can of worms, indeed.

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