Yes, Yes, of COURSE I care about health…

Most of the responses to my recent Her.meneutics post (“The Dark Side of Healthy Eating”) have been very positive, for which I’m really grateful, not least because the spirit of that post really captures some important aspects of my upcoming book.

Offspring #1 enjoys a strawberry.

But some readers have asked whether or not I do, in fact, care about healthy eating–or whether I’m more:

“lets [sic] all eat hot dogs and bacon full of nitrates! (which are proven to cause cancer) and make fun of the people who give it up in the name of being healthy.”

Yes, I do care about health! I’ll serve (and eat) the occasional hotdog, but I’ll choose an organic, humanely-raised, nitrate-free variety. Our family tries to eat mostly organic and/or free-range animal products–and we eat mainly vegetarian meals. We grow and eat organic fruit and veggies right in our own backyard. I make yogurt. You get the idea.

It’s just that I think “health” in eating means more than just seeking dietary ‘perfection’ single-mindedly, as if it is the be-all, end-all of life. To me, dietary ‘health’ must include the health of the planet, and it must include a sense of food justice–an awareness of those who don’t get enough (or enough of the right foods).

And it must include gratitude and fellowship.

So, yes, I do care about ‘healthy’ eating. There are many, many things I don’t let my children eat. But I’m equally concerned that my orientation toward good food isn’t a frightened flight away from “what everyone else is eating.”

Offspring #2 enjoys being strange with a strawberry.

As I said in the piece,

“Do some foods testify more clearly to the goodness of God by virtue of having been produced in ways that honor God’s creation, God’s creatures, and God’s people? Certainly. But there remains that dietary ‘perfection’ is elusive, if not entirely illusory, and that our lives are much more than the food that sustains them.”

A strawberry picked and eaten in the garden, warmed by the sun, speaks more clearly to me of God’s goodness than one I might purchase in a plastic clamshell, shipped from 3,000 miles away, in the dead of winter.

But if someone offers me the latter kind of strawberry, I’ll accept it, for the sharing imparts a kind of grace that goes beyond nutrition, taste, or ecological impact. I don’t know why, exactly.

It just does.


5 thoughts on “Yes, Yes, of COURSE I care about health…

  1. Your younger son looks like he’s about to shotput that strawberry.

    The her.mi article was great, Rachel. One thing I’ve been thinking about the last few days is the phenomenon of inner city food deserts. You wrote on this some time inthe past few months, didn’t you? I was reminded of the problem last weekend at a human trafficking conference when a fair trade speaker brought it up.


  2. “the sharing imparts a kind of grace that goes beyond nutrition, taste, or ecological impact.”

    This phrase puts me in mind of Babette’s Feast, and interestingly, I don’t think there’s anything in that meal that was locally sourced…

  3. I’m so grateful you’ve chosen to write about this. For me, the community part of meals have been a difficult balance…because YES community is such an important part of food. I mean, food is (should be) community glue. But what I communicate with what I choose to eat is also important.
    I tend to want to go too far in one direction and then not really enjoy the community part of things when I’m not eating according to what I think is “best,” thus taking some of the community glue aspect of the meal away.
    But my “new” approach is to just eat the best I can when I’m NOT sharing a meal and let it go when I am…something along those lines.
    Anyway. You’ve given me some great food for thought:-).

  4. I want to encourage you, because I really enjoy reading your posts on this topic and I don’t want you to stop or feel self-conscious about expressing yourself! I know this shouldn’t be used as a trump card or anything, but I keep thinking of the words of Jesus in Matthew 19: “The one who can accept this should accept it.” When he gave a response to the Pharisee’s question that totally exposed the complicated mess that existed beyond what the Law addressed, Jesus exposed their paradigm of right and wrong as absurd and showed the need for grace. But he seems (to me) to acknowledge that some people are unable to exist outside of the paradigm they have already accepted (I think this is what he is saying, as well, when he says that you cannot put new wine in an old wineskin). Your teaching is good, but there are some who cannot accept it because they can’t make sense of such an extremely gracious paradigm.

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