So Much for the American Lifestyle!

I've been thinking about how our food choices affect our lifestyle: fast food, deli meats, sandwiches on the go (even if self righteously made at home), sliced bread, etc. etc. Go go go.

It's been nice this week, with my husband at home, to not have to pack sandwiches for him every day. Now, honestly, I'm fervently prayering for a return of sandwich packing when he gets a job (oh, please God, soon!) but in the mean time it's been lots of soup. Soup is good. Soup is cheap. Soup lasts and lasts...

Soup is not portable, because who keeps a thermos around these days? Perhaps that is an investment worth considering. WHY does all our food need to be so portable? That's what I'm asking.

So, now I hear, speaking of sandwiches, via a New York times article, that bacteriophagic soup is sprayed on deli meats to kill certain bacteria, in lieu of cleaning up processing plants...and this is supposed to be good for us HOW? I think not.

The salmon patties I promised to blog about were just sort of there. They were good dipped in ketchup. Only half my kids ate them. Par for the course. Next time I think I'll make them with cracker crumbs instead of just flour. Or perhaps with less flour. They were too bready.

You think you can have your starbucks and your cute figure? Think again. Same NYT article...those 20 oz. things are loaded. Thanks be to God I'm a starbucks virgin. I have not even had those bottled starbucks coffees that can be got at the grocery store. By now, it's a game with myself, not to have any. I have, however, over the course of my weight loss journey started drinking my coffee black. It's one of those permanent lifestyle changes...a few hundred calories a day chopped off by surrendering that real cream addiction developed in my low carb days. That, and walking, and portion control. And walking. an portion control. The jeans don't lie.

And I realize I'm rambling, writing poorly and saying nothing. So, let me at it again: Food. How does our eating style reflect our values and our lifestyle and our (dare I say it?) theology?

We orthodox, strive to have certain days when we don't eat meat...for all of the reasons people don't eat meat. Resect for life, preservation of resources, spiritual discipline, taming of the flesh, opportunity to give to the poor, increased prayer and fasting, etc. etc. etc. So, there's some theology packed in that package.

But I"m hearing a conversation now, that has lots to do with sustainability, organic stuff, preservation of the earth...there's overlap, but it's not ALL the same. And there is some good theology there, too. Some careful thinking.

But there's one thing that keeps coming back to MY mind that I think needs to be said: How can this food theology be presented in such a way that it is accessible to ALL? Even to all in this very rich country. Every time I start thinking about it, I start looking around, sometimes into my own pocketbook and pantry, and at other times at my neighbors, and I start wondering: in an urban poor or semi-poor setting, how is this conversation relevant? How can a "food theology", if you will, that enshrines a new sort of organic free-range holiness be accessible to the "common person"?

Because this would cause division within in body of Christ along class lines, once again. "We are holy because we embrace the new holiness, we make holy organic free range food choices, and you are poor so you get the white bread government cheese castoffs that we reject as being to good for US....." I've never actually heard anyone say this, but I really believe the danger is there for this sort of division to develop. Do we speed past the guy with the carboard sign while we are headed to the farmer's market? Or Walmart? Whatever....just what's bouncing in my head.


Lauren S. said…
I think about this a lot too. And I have come to the conclusion that we eat too many animal products. I've thought about being a vegetarian just because I think food processing practices are disgusting and wrong, but I don't find that eating the meat,egg, milk that comes from a healthy creature that lives untortured is wrong, especially if it hasn't been processed in some vile way. Meat, I believe was intended for our bodies, however, as a treat. Meat is supposed to be expensive. That is why a lamb would be sacrificed to Lord. The Jews were sacrificing the best. But we Americans have made meat a part of our daily lives more than once a day. So, supply and demand...We've thought of many unkosher and unethical ways to make meat and other animal products very cheap. And now it's chic to go organic.

So, to answer your question, I think we need to eat a lot less animal products.
Susan said…
Having spent a fair amount of time in Greece, I can say that the Greeks hardly eat red meat at all. Maybe on Sunday...the eat the famous Mediterrian diet all the time. No heavy sweets, just fruit for dessert.
It is so easy to fast in Greece. Everyone is doing it, and all the stores cater to it.
Even McDonalds offers "fast fare"
We have it all backwards in this country, making our main staple beef.
I think that beans are the main staple in Greece. At least in my husbands family.
Of course the younger generation might be different.
Anonymous said…
Read the book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" for a very nice and thorough discussion of many of these issues.

Alana, I'm all too familiar with the First Self-Righteous Church of Organic Holiness...

I think the ways to combat the division are twofold...first, repentance and non-judgementalness, leading to genuine concern and love for our neighbor. I learned this the hard way (convicting myself) when I realized I was donating food that I would not eat myself to the local food pantry. I felt about an inch tall when I realized what I'd done.

Second, well, political engagement to the extent appropriate. High quality food for school lunch programs, WIC, food stamps, etc. Voting for funding of education that does not depend on having soda sales in schools -- so then you get to vote for soda OUT of schools. That kind of thing. Very hard, very boring, very un-sexy.

Oh, and that bacteriophage thing about made me *hurl*. Viruses **mutate** for heaven's sake!!
Amy said…
Good, interesting thoughts, Alana, and good comments. I know I've been thinking about these things for several years now. The thing I don't get is, eating lower on the food chain is *supposed* to be cheaper, but whole grains and local stuff often aren't. I highly recommend a book called "Fat Land" by Greg Critser. It details how America got so fat, including pointing a finger at churches, who often encourage overeating/eating unhealthy foods, and long ago forgot that gluttony was a sin.

I'm beginning to understand that there are no easy answers to this whole thing, and that the issue is more pervasive than I thought. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights. I could talk about and read about this endlessly...unfortunately.
alana said…
What if urban dwelling Christians became engaged in using their small land plots for community gardens dedicated to providing home grown organic veggies to some extent for those who would otherwise not have budgetary access to such vegetables, but also for the poor, for donation to local food bank ministries? And what if it were happening all over the place... at the same time?
Sandig said…
I too have the same thoughts bouncing about in my mind. Wonderful observations and comments. We were part of a community garden for a short while - two years... it was fun but really hard too. I am so happy to have found your blog. We try to be Orthodox Christians but have not yet been Chrismated. In fact the last two years have been a bit rough. You see it is difficult for "converts" to feel a like they are wanted or like they belong. So we take one day at a time. I will be checking in from time to time... good to know there are bloggers like you in the blogosphere. :)

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