We had a delightful Easter weekend. I commented yesterday to one of our teaching pastors the difference in hope levels between Saturday & Sunday – Easter Sunday is always such a day when hope bubbles up in my spirit. The difference one day makes is amazing!
Anyhow, we had another marathon Easter Saturday, several hours of which were spent with friends nearby. The wife is Indonesian and the husband is Syrian, and we ended up talking about “wasting food,” stemming from the statistic of “12% of the groceries you buy, you subsequently throw away.” When I heard that stat for the first time, I looked at Mark and said, “Ummm… not in this house!” That practice is far too un-frugal for me. But that led to a very interesting conversation and contemplation for me.
Our friends talked about their upbringing in different countries, being linked by a common faith (Islam) and how food is not thrown away (intentionally) where they were raised. I heard the husband remind his daughter earlier in the day that what she put on her plate she must eat, and I thought to myself how different that was from American culture. One of the things they said was that they don’t waste food out of respect for God and that it is taught early in Islamic culture.
Which got me thinking: I was raised with the idea that it was sinful to waste food. As in “God will judge you”-sinful. I reject that idea, because it’s not supported in Scripture, and that’s my measuring stick, so to speak. But what if we recognized it’s not a sin per se, but dishonouring to be wasteful with food? What if we respected food because God provided it for us for our health, nourishment, and strength?
To me, this is a huge paradigm-shift. It speaks the difference between profane & sacred. If we respect food and attempt not to waste it because it’s a gift and we honour the gift and the Giver, that’s far different than saying “clean your plate, even if you’re full,” or “eat that – it’s a sin to waste it.”
As I was thinking aloud with Mark about this, he pressed me for a definition of “sacred” vs. “holy.” As in, “If you call food ‘sacred’, doesn’t that mean it’s ‘holy’?” Holy means “set apart to the service or worship of God” (1913 Webster’s Dictionary). Sacred means “entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things” (Dictionary.com). For me, there is a difference, and although sometimes “sacred” is used synonymously with “holy,” that’s not what the actual word means. If food were set apart and specially dedicated for use in worship (i.e., holy), then it could rightly be considered “sinful” to misuse. But going back to the idea that food is a divine gift and not holy, the word “sacred” fits better – and gives food the honour due the Giver without putting unnecessary burdens on people.
Mark & I aren’t slaves to food – it’s a tool for living. But we also don’t treat it lightly and we want to respect the food chain and how God designed it to bring food to us. I’ll be writing a post on “Food, Inc.” in a while and I’ll expound more on this, but this is what we think about and how we approach the nourishment of our bodies.
We also don’t force our son to eat too much; we help him choose the amount of food that is right for his tummy, reminding him that his stomach is really not much bigger than his fist. But last night, when the Easter dinner was more than he could muster, we decided that since leftovers are for lunch today, we’d wrap up his plate and reheat it. There was no point in wasting the food, and that felt like the right decision after our discussion on Saturday.
How do you approach food? Do you give it the weight of being sacred and honour the food and the Giver?