“Absolution can be Disconcerting; Gimme Some Fire ‘n’ Brimstone!”

I’m delighted to point you to another good review of my book, this time in The Christian Century, by Valerie Weaver-Zercher.

Early in the review she talks about the general readiness we all have to be screamed at about our many and varied food woes, but how my book, even though it gets into some sordid details, doesn’t deal in fire ‘n’ brimstone.

I come by that honest: my Daddy may be a Baptist preacher, but he ain’t never been the screaming kind, not even when that’s what people wanted.

Here’s a taste of Weaver-Zercher’s review:

A substratum of biblical and theological earthworks fortifies Stone’s argument: that no matter how broken or polluted or alienated our food and eating practices have become, eating remains a great and God-blessed practice, one that should give us pleasure instead of guilt. Her refraction of scripture through the lens of food as gift is one of the greatest contributions of this slim volume. The Genesis account of Eden as an example of biodiversity, the story of Ruth as a narrative of food justice, the Bread of Heaven as more than a spiritual metaphor: some of these theological points are not new, but Stone makes them accessible without diminishing their depth.

Another gift of this book is Stone’s refusal to bow to food orthodoxy of any kind. Regarding the gift of eating communally, she writes, “Better the occasional meal shared with friends at McDonald’s than organic salad in bitter isolation.” She acknowledges that McDonald’s food “can’t speak clearly of God’s love and provision for creatures because of the many, many injustices involved at every stage of its production.” Of course, a meal home-cooked with ingredients from one’s garden speaks more lucidly of God’s provision than chicken nuggets and Diet Coke any day. But Stone doesn’t push us toward perfection. Instead, she nudges us toward greater faithfulness, suggesting that occasionally this might mean holding one food ideal more loosely than another.

{You can read it all online–free, no paywall–here.}

Pleasing To The Eye, But Good for Food?

{Today I’m pleased to share another guest post from Tim, who has written for this blog before on due process and on the grace of taste.}

My wife and I like to watch Food Network shows like Iron Chef and Chopped, where chefs compete to see who makes the best meal.

Judges constantly mention that enjoying food starts with the eyes–an aspect so important that the scoring includes a high proportion of points specifically for presentation (or “plating”) of the food. If something does not look pleasing to the eye, the judges are sure to let the chefs know.
There’s a whole industry dedicated to making food look good. Food stylists work hard to make food look appetizing in magazine advertisements and TV commercials. I remember reading an article on it years ago. The writer revealed that one reason canned soups look so hearty and full of good ingredients in one company’s ads was because a stylist added things like marbles to the bowl of soup; this works well on camera, even though it might not fool anyone looking up close at the bowl in real life. Another trick they revealed concerned meat coming off the barbecue. Those great looking grill marks are from a length of hot steel carefully applied; the meat might even be raw and only painted to look cooked.

Recently, a sharp-eyed McDonald’s customer sent in a question to the corporate office in Canada asking the age-old question:

why do the burgers in the ads look better than the ones in the restaurant? The article video explain, giving good insights into how a food stylist and photographer can work together to make the food look appealing. One refreshing aspect is that McDonald’s insists the stylist and photographer use only the same ingredients that are used in the store. No fake additions allowed!

All of this reminded me of another place where I read about food that appeared pleasing to the eye:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6.)

God had told Eve and Adam they could eat fruit from any tree but that one. They ate it anyway. Some might take this to mean that food appearing pleasing is evil but that can’t be true since this pleasing aspect of the appearance of food preceded the transgression. No, food is supposed to look good.

The real issue is what we do when we look upon food – or anything else God has put in our lives. Do we recognize God’s wonderful blessings in his provision for us? Or do we try to take what God has given for good and use it for something for which it was not intended?

We are not told explicitly what God’s purpose was for putting that tree in the Garden of Eden, but I think it’s safe to say God had one even if we don’t know what it is. (Psalm 33:11, Romans 8:28.) Happily, we do know God’s purpose for the food we eat now:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31.)

It’s like looking at food in magazine ads. Are you seeing the actual food ingredients, properly prepared as if being served for dinner? Or do they promise a hearty meal when what they are really showing is a bowl full of marbles?

It’s like looking at everything else around us, too–do we recognize God’s blessings and enjoy them for his glory, or do we grasp the fakes and frauds thinking that these look more pleasing?

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8. Check out 1 Peter 2:2-3 also.)

Me, I’d rather taste the Real Thing.

Tim is a California native who changed his major three times, colleges four times, and took six years to get a Bachelor’s degree in a subject he’s never been called on to use professionally. Married for over 24 years with two kids now in college, his family is constant evidence of God’s abundant blessings in his life. He and his wife live in Northern California. Tim guest posts on other peoples’ blogs, but is too lazy to get a blog of his own.

Top Ten Food Companies Paying off the Government

Hats off to HuffPo Food (with the help of OpenSecrets.org–awesome site!) for assembling this list of the ten food/beverage companies that have spent the most on government lobbyists in 2011. While I won’t deny that there’s lobbying that’s legit, but most of it falls in the unjust weights and measures category–and, at the risk of sounding like a Bible-thumper (which I might be), is an abomination to God.

Here are the top 10 companies that press their big corporate thumbs most heavily on the scales of justice, along with the issues they’re most preoccupied with.

10. Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robbins

pay to influence government in their favor concerning laws that touch on…

nutritional labeling, international trade agreements

9. Hershey’s

pay to influence government in their favor concerning laws that touch on…

Sugar and cocoa trade laws related to NAFTA (see this post!),  advertising unhealthy foods (see this one!); nutritional labeling

8. Starbucks

(I know, I know. I love Starbucks coffee, too. But Equal Exchange is pretty good, too–promise.)

pay to influence government in their favor concerning laws that touch on…

Nutritional labeling, Green initiatives; Trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia 7. YUM! Brands (Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut)

pay to influence government in their favor concerning laws that touch on…

Use of SNAP (food stamps) in restaurants; Employer health care mandates; Tort reform

6. Sodexho–which provides catering to a huge number of institutions, including the U.S. Armed Forces (see this post!)

pay to influence government in their favor concerning laws that touch on…

Childhood nutrition guidelines (see above post); Labor/management issues 5. McDonald’s (have I never written about McD’s before?! Shame!)

pay to influence government in their favor concerning laws that touch on…

Nutritional labeling in restaurants; Corporate taxes; Affordable Care Act; Immigration reform 4. Olive Garden/Red Lobster

pay to influence government in their favor concerning laws that touch on…

Unemployment insurance; Catfish inspection; Childhood obesity reduction; Affordable Care Act

3. Mars (M&Ms, Snickers, Wrigley’s Gum)

pay to influence government in their favor concerning laws that touch on…

Sugar taxes and regulations; SNAP (food stamps); Trucking rules for Mexico-America trade 2. PepsiCo

pay to influence government in their favor concerning laws that touch on…

Patent reform; Childhood obesity; Soda taxes; Advertising to children and teens (see this post.)

and you might’ve guessed it…

I'm sorry. I know this is very wrong in so many ways.

1. Coca-Cola

pay to influence government in their favor concerning laws that touch on…

Water policies; Military catering; SNAP; free trade and foreign investment agreements

The really frightening thing is how many smaller “brands” these big corporate monsters control. Odwalla juices and VitaminWater? That’s Coca-Cola. Fritos, Doritos, Cheetos, Quaker Oats, and a zillion others? PepsiCo. And it just goes on.

And on.

And on.

(Click over to HuffPo Food if you want to see the sums they’ve spent.)

{All images CC licensed for reuse.}