WWJE? Does Source Matter?

Funny story. I wanted an example of a food’s source. It occurred to me that my breakfast this morning, a package of Belvita biscuits, could be just the thing. Where did these originate? When I Googled the question, it gave an unequivocal (and incorrect) answer: Indonesia. It turns out that my Belvitas, at least according to the box, were made in Mexico.

For many foodies, “locally sourced,” is one of the principle commandments. At the very least, they would admonish us to know where our food comes from. As for me, Indonesia seemed like a plausible, and rather disturbingly distant, answer a few minutes ago.

Yesterday I took up the question of what Jesus would eat: WWJE? As promised, I would like to spend a bit of time mulling over some principles that I find useful in answering that question. I won’t hold these up as absolute doctrinal positions but rather as my best wisdom on the matter of what goes in my mouth.

Does the source, the origin, of your food matter? Clearly it matters in the area of taste and availability. Broccoli grown in our garden will most likely taste better than broccoli shipped in from California (which supplies 90% of the U.S. crop). On the other hand, we’ll struggle to grow that vegetable in the coldest and the hottest months of the year, meaning the availability is limited.

That’s all great for a food enthusiast, but does God really care about whether your vegetables are locally sourced? I’m not convinced that this is high on God’s list, but I could probably be persuaded otherwise.

When I talk about the source of our food, I think the more important thing is the ultimate source of it. God gives food to the birds, Jesus tells us in Matthew 6. He used birds to give food (from Him) to Elijah. He fed Israel miraculously for 40 years on manna.

He gives food to every creature.
His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 136:25

The source of our food is not Hy-Vee or Whole Foods, not Indonesia, Mexico, or the garden a few steps from where I am sitting. My food’s source is God. It is a gift from Him.

If I give a gift to someone–and if it is truly a no-strings-attached kind of gift–then I will hope they will use that gift wisely but I won’t in any way force the issue. For example, about a year back, I gave my old car to my son. Will he treat that vehicle differently than he would one that he’d purchased? I’d like to think that he would remain grateful and responsible with it. Should he drive 30,000 miles without changing the oil, I would be disappointed, but it is his car.

I believe, when considering WWJE?, that it is more important that I remember that my food came as a gift from God than that I obsess over how many truck miles my beef or tomatoes endured before landing in my kitchen.

When we remember that each bite that goes into our mouth and sustains us is a manifestation of the grace of God, then we’re more likely to make Christ-pleasing decisions, which might include buying more locally sourced fare. But maybe not.

My Kingdom for an Egg

Day-Old ChicksIt might be time to stock up on eggs. Of course, since they don’t have the greatest shelf life, maybe the time has come to cook up a bunch of eggs–maybe 10 or 12 dozen–and put them in the freezer for future use.

Why? It seems that a huge grocery chain in Texas has begun limiting purchases of eggs to three dozen per customer. This news, reported in the Washington Postevokes images of bread lines and ration books.

The news, as the grocer suggests, comes on the heels of what has been a devastating several months for egg farmers in the United States. Avian flu, which has proven lethal in other parts of the world, has spread throughout the United States like wildfire. Since April, when cases began spreading by the thousands each week, the virus has escalated to a point of national crisis.

While this information might not portend quite the level of dread that might accompany the apocalypse, it does point out just how fragile our food economy is. Should chicken and eggs rise dramatically in price, consider the ripples that would follow. More to the point, consider the impact such increases would have on your budget.

So stock up on those eggs soon. While you’re at it, fill your freezer with chicken. The food funds you save could be your own!

Defeating the Onions of Doom: The Nerd Fitness Pantry

How many times has this happened to you? Your neighbor, that attractive person you’ve been desperately wanting to meet for months, comes to the door and asks to borrow a couple of oranges. You think, “Shazam! It’s my lucky day.” Immediately agreeing to help, you dash to the refrigerator to retrieve said oranges only to find your refrigerator stocked entirely with onions.

Martin Short and Tina TurnerMany years ago, back when Saturday Night Live was funny, Martin Short did one of his Ed Grimley sketches in which Tina Turner showed up at Ed’s door asking for oranges. If you didn’t sleep through that first paragraph, you can guess what Ed found in his fridge.

Sometimes that’s how I feel when I go to the kitchen in search of food. In my case, my frustration usually arises when my food-snarfing son has gone all conehead on me and consumed mass quantities of whatever I had counted on finding, but the lack of healthy, edible food is a significant obstacle to successful eating.

That’s why I was so pleased that the guys at Nerd Fitness determined to take the common sense approach of describing the Nerd Fitness Pantry. The idea here is to have a flexible selection of ingredients that will keep you from finding your refrigerator full of onions when hunger strikes. In normal Nerd Fitness style, the piece is presented using a video game comparison.

Each item you’ll be gathering on your grocery store mission is like a tool used during questing for one or more purposes. Think of coconut oil like the hook shot in Ocarina of Time: it’s going to take some effort (and real-life rupees) to obtain, but after you have it, you’ll be using it all the time.

Others items are like potions, great to keep around in case of emergency (like if you didn’t have time to cook before work).

This longish entry on the NF blog goes into a lot of detail on both what you ought to buy but why you ought to buy it. It prioritizes things and takes the incredibly commonsense approach of pointing out that you can vary the list to suit your own needs and wants. They even provide a handy chart.

Penny and I have been working on stocking our kitchen in just such a manner, although with different details. What we’ve found is that by having the raw materials on hand, we’re able to eat healthier and waste less while we resist the temptation to throw up our hands in frustration and order a pizza. This sort of planning just seems like good stewardship all around.


Where’s for Dinner?

The American Family Table

According to statistics from the Department of Commerce, Americans now spend more at restaurants and bars than they do at grocery stores. I have to say that, while I like having someone else cook for me as much as the next person, I struggle with the stewardship of this whole thing. First of all, there’s the cost of the typical restaurant fare.

The cost of restaurant meals (averaging $6.96 last year) are rising faster than the cost of in-home meals ($2.24), the NPD Group says. NPD also notes that even though we are spending more of our food budget on restaurants, four out of five meals come from food bought for the home.

My second problem with restaurant meals is the difficulty of finding food that doesn’t blast your diet goals out of the water. Even if you can keep the calories in check, the sugar, fat, and sodium will get you.

That’s why I’m opting to eat more meals at home. This evening, though, just this once, I’m thinking that Papa John’s pizza sounds good.