Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Our relationship with food in USAmerican culture is disturbing to me. Speaking for most people, I know that we have divorced ourselves to a great degree from the planting/tending/harvesting/preserving of our food. But we also seem to have separated ourselves from communal knowledge of what food is, what food can be.

What disturbs me the most (as I write, anyway) is that we seem to not notice or care that much of what we eat - much of what sustains our life - is surprisingly far removed from what actually grows in the ground. This truth, alongside the stories of food found in scripture, got me to thinking about my own eating habits.

In the past week I've consumed donuts, corn chips, sugared soda, processed white-flour bread, and ice cream cake. I've also eaten fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, whole grain cereal, that energy goo stuff, and organic yogurt. I've consumed machine- and anonymously-processed food, and I've made sauce in my kitchen using produce harvested from my back yard. I've eaten in my car, alone at a table in a crowded space, on my bike, at the office with co-workers, and around a table with family (a few times).

And so I wonder, what happened to the tradition of preparing food before sitting down to a meal with people we love? When the preparation is sitting in a car waiting for the fast-food worker to bring the bag of fried whatever, or when the preparation is slipping something into the microwave during the commercial, something is missing. There certainly is a time and a place for these things ~ but they've become the norm to which we too often turn, rather than the sometimes necessary and always lamentable exception.

If Jesus is seen in scripture regularly sitting at table (or around, say, a campfire by the lake) eating with people, what does it mean for the idea of table fellowship that we eat at fast food restaurants, in front of the tv, by the soccer field ~ is Jesus present in those places, and do we recognize the presence of the divine as we shovel fried potatoes into our mouths while driving 70 mph down the freeway? What about the other places we eat ~ weekday family dinners, holiday family dinners, backyard bar-b-ques, potluck suppers, dinner parties ~ do we recognize the presence of the divine in those places?

I'm equally guilty. I say the table blessing almost every week when the congregation I serve gathers for a meal on Sunday mornings, but I don't always remember to look for the presence of Christ as I receive sustenance during the rest of the week.

And I wonder, if we were more intentional about recognizing the divine, would we be more intentional about noticing where our food comes from and how it gets from the field (or factory) to our tables.


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