This article was published on thesheepdip this month:
Strawberries and cream (at least double, if not clotted)? Sausages and mash (with gravy and caramelised onions)? Chicken tikka and poppadoms (with mango chutney)? What can’t you live without? Let’s face it, most of us are food addicts. We know what we like; we tend to enjoy, rather than endure, our thrice daily refueling sessions.
It is a lot easier to link Christianity to music, or to art, or even to politics than it is to link it to food. We know we’re coming before God when we go to church, when we’re at housegroup or when we’re trying (occasionally) to ‘be salt and light’ in the workplace, or downing a few pints in our local. We are perhaps less aware of His presence when we’re filling our trolleys at Tescos. We know that God is supposed to be involved in every area of our lives; that we’re supposed to live a life of worship… but we often tend to write off some ‘areas’ as being so mundane that God won’t really mind if we don’t consult Him. Does He really care if we buy chocolate spread or Marmite for the kids’ sandwiches? Is he really interested in whether we eat out once a week or twice a week, and where, and how much we spend?
Here are a few ‘foodie’ issues for us all to chew on… don’t forget to swallow… stop when full:
Britons waste more food than any other nation in the world, with an official study showing a third of what we buy ends up in the bin (so the BBC and The Guardian reported in March of this year). The annual value of food thrown away is put at £460 per head, which equates to a staggering £23billion a year. For a typical family of four, this means food worth around £35 is going into the bin every week. Yes, we could blame the supermarkets for their BOGOF deals. Likewise, we could blame ourselves for falling for them. If we buy what we know our household will eat, and no more, then we will lessen these tragic statistics. If this leaves us with more money, then there are billions of hungry people in this world who would willingly take it off our hands. If we still find ourselves with leftovers, let’s be creative and try to use them up, rather than sending them to their doom to rot in a landfill.
Throughout the Bible, food plays an vital role in many forms of celebration; it is shared and enjoyed. Things haven’t changed – food today is still a key component of celebration: weddings, birthdays, parties… whatever the occasion, big or small, you can guarantee that someone has taken the trouble to organise/cook something special. But surely it is possible to enjoy good food with others without over-spending. When entertaining, buy a greater amount of cheaper ‘filling’ food (jacket potatoes, pasta or bread) and slightly less meat or other protein. Buy less food overall; don’t assume everyone will have thirds. If eating out, why not opt for just two courses rather than three. Ask for a jug of water for the table. It’s free, and it will help your party to spend less on over-priced drinks. If you can’t live without your wine, have one glass less than usual. Again, money saved can be sent to some of the 20% of this world who are severely undernourished (or perhaps the further 50% who are hungry some or all of the time).
We are part of the 30% of the world’s population that has enough to eat. We don’t go hungry, ever (getting the ‘munchies’ mid-morning really doesn’t count). Jesus was fairly clear on this: We should love each other. The people we meet every day and the people we’ve never met, who live in developing nations. With all this in mind, as Christians, we should shop for locally produced food as much as is possible (and if it’s organic, all the better). Think farm shops or food delivery schemes, local butchers and greengrocers, etc. Remember, climate change will effect the poor of this world sooner, and more severely, than it will effect us. If it can’t be bought locally or from the UK at large, and it is produced in a developing nation, then make sure you’re buying a ‘fairly traded’ version of that particular food. There are 100s of lines of fairly traded food; no excuses!
Many Christians are not in favour of smoking because they know that God wants us to look after the bodies He’s blessed us with, and smoking is bad for your health. It is surprising then that so many Christians are obese. They are not alone; the occurrence of obesity has increased by five fold since the Second World War and many obesity experts now believe we are seriously at risk of developing an obesity epidemic in the Western world in the next generation or even sooner. But our size is our choice, isn’t it? Not really. Being overweight or obese increases a person’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes, as well as a whole host of other illnesses, many which can lead to an early grave. Medical treatment costs a lot of money, even if we don’t have to cough up for it. Thus, money is, again, wasted. Lives that God intended for His purposes are ‘disabled’ or even cut short due to our lack of self-control. If we have any respect for God’s creation (us) we will aim to eat less, exercise more, and generally take good care of our bodies.
Let’s set an example. Buy less food. Entertain and celebrate with wise food choices, as well as with much joy. Eat more healthily. Go food shopping with other, less fortunate, people in mind. Treat food as though it was something we are privileged to have enough of, let alone to have so much choice and variety. Give food a bit more respect, and thank God for allowing us to sample the wonders of his culinary creation.