Confession: These four observations really ought to be placed in four separate posts. But I would get sick of thinking about food long before the fourth day came.
So read them in four sittings, if you’re picky that way.
Or mull on them separately.
Or just close your computer and go eat something. I don’t have essential-wisdom-for-humanity to distill.
Here are four tenets of my partial philosophy on food.
1. God giveth us richly all things to enjoy. (1 Tim. 6:17)
All that I say in this post is underlined with this philosophy. God made food splendid, and He gave it to us to enjoy.
It was a mistake to judge the television chef based on how she looked to me. Do I know her story? I may be far less disciplined than she.
Everyone draws her battle lines at a different place. Can we offer each other grace? For some, food is comfort, and they eat too much when they’re upset. For me, food is celebration, and I eat too much when I’m happy.
(Which is why I’m losing weight.)
I am lax in thing that others are strict about. I will add all the cream, butter, and sugar I want to the foods I cook, because a) I don’t think milk fat is bad fat, and b) to me, sugar is not the world’s curse.* These are basic one-ingredient items I can measure. But I’ll usually feel unhappy about using boxed mixes, canned soup, and prepackaged snacks, because I don’t trust ingredients I can’t read, and I don’t approve of nonfood items mixed into my kids’ lunches.
*I would have fun substituting other natural sweeteners, but until I can produce my own maple syrup or honey, the cost is simply self-prohibitive.
(I’m not really losing weight. That was a joke.)
2. Our need for such a vast array of food is ridiculous.
Sometimes I just laugh at the impossible combinations we live with every day. Iced coffee, for instance. Nowadays it’s a staple, but think of it—ice of the north, coffee of the south: mutually exclusive pleasures merged by modern technology.
(Check out this article on the near-impossibility of producing a cheeseburger!)
We have come to believe what the experts tell us: that in order to have a healthy, balanced diet, we must rely on a panoramic range of supplies that spans the known world. It’s simply not realistic. Eat this number of this color fruit and that color veggies. Eat blueberries and acai berries and papaya and oranges and kiwi. (Case in point: my spell checker doesn’t recognize the word “acai.” Five years ago we didn’t know what they were.) For thousands of years, such variety was out of reach. You ate what you had. Chinese ate rice, Mexicans ate tortillas, Englishmen ate potatoes, and in general, they did alright.
Of course they all died. But still.
An amazingly forethoughtful God gave to each habitable area of the world all that was needed—a nourishing staple food, meat, a milk mammal, and some fresh produce. But only in season. In the south, you could eat fresh fruit all year long. In the north, He gave you cold weather to preserve what you’d gathered in summer, and you ate it dried, frozen, or not at all. “Fresh” of any kind was not to be had, for months at a time.
Stop feeling guilty for eating what’s available!
3. I think it a cruel, cruel trick of Satan to infatuate the American female mind with two opposites, and keep us caught in unhappiness between the two:
- a passion for food, now that we’ve gathered earth’s rare Salt and Sweet and Fat into easily-accessible indulgence
- and a desperate need for the most unrealistic of slender figures.
4. Kosher eating can be an obsession too.
I think of the early Christians, who refused the meat set before them for reasons of conscience. (See also this passage.) Could we be as finicky, for reasons nearly as religious? As I read in one random comment online, “I’m picky too, but it’s because I don’t eat things that are bad for me!”
I think of my goal for my children: that they sit down to eat with a thankful heart what is placed in front of them, at anyone’s table, without asking “What’s in it?” and turning up their noses.
I think of C. S. Lewis, writing about the gluttony of Delicacy as opposed to the gluttony of Excess.
Screwtape, a tempter from hell: “What do quantities matter, provided we can use a human belly and palate to produce querulousness, impatience, uncharitableness, and self-concern? [We have] this old woman well in hand… She is always turning from what has been offered her to say with a demure little sigh and a smile ‘Oh, please, please… all I want is a cup of tea, weak but not too weak, and the teeniest weeniest bit of really crisp toast.’
You see? Because what she wants is smaller and less costly than what has been set before her, she never recognizes as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others. At the very moment of indulging her appetite she believes that she is practicing temperance… Her belly now dominates her whole life.”
It’s a mistake to assume that a reasonable body weight is indication that I’m in control of my appetites.
I love some really rich foods. Cheesecake. Steak. Ice cream. Portabella mushrooms sautéed in butter. Hot tea with cream and sugar.
I love some really plebian foods. Fried cabbage. Oatmeal. Bread and butter. Cornmeal mush. Tomato sandwiches.
Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things… I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (I Cor. 9:27)
I have much to learn.
What do you think?