Food in Christianity

Most know that a unique aspect of being human is our belief in a higher power. A diversity of beliefs and religions has developed throughout the centuries. I believe that these religions play a large part into human diets. Religion itself has multiple degrees of diet restrictions. Lets start with the big one, Christianity.

In Genesis, there are some guidelines for what God intended the human diet to be. However, there have been conflicting interpretations of what is stated. “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; as I gave you the green Blog 3.2plants, I give you everything” (Genesis 9.4). Most omnivore Christians believe that this is what God intended. They are to eat all animals and plants that God has created. In contrast, vegetarian Christians believe God meant for us to only eat plants. “I have given every green plant for food” (Genesis 1.29). I will be focusing a lot more on vegetarianism later in my project, so lets focus on the omnivore view. It is seen as morally and ethically acceptable to eat both meat and plants. God created them for their use and consumption. If they were put on the planet for our use, then it is fitting to consume, domesticate, and use them for our labor. Many use the evidence of the bible to justify the dietary and treatment of meat in our everyday lives.

Another aspect of Christianity is Lent. Lent is a time in the Christian religion where there are forty days of fasting, prayer, and penance. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday. It is in the memory of Jesus Christ and his suffering, sacrifice, death, and ultimate resurrection. During this time the Church asks members to fast and abstain from meat on certain days. “Fasting means to limit food to one full meal a day with the possibility of two smaller meals as needed. Abstinence means not eating meat, although fish is allowed” (Jakoblich). The reason for not eating meat is as a form of penance in honor of Jesus Christ. Meat is such a large part of our diet, which makes it a sacrifice most can make. However, a little known fact is that the church encourages those to be abstinent on all Fridays throughout the year, not only during lent. However, substituting another penance is acceptable throughout the year. Fasting is also done to honor Jesus Christ and focus on one’s religion. It is done to cleanse the body so that one can pursue a life closer to God. It also is a way to remove distractions and focus on one’s devotion to their religion. Since food and especially meat are a huge part of our everyday life, it is a substantial sacrifice to make for one’s beliefs. Food is our life and surrounds every aspect of our day-to-day activities. So the time you would have spent preparing a large meal can now be spent thinking about God and one’s devotion. Lent is about reminding oneself what Jesus sacrificed for them. It’s powerful to think that food is one of the most common sacrifices and some may consider the hardest thing to sacrifice.

Another aspect of Christianity that involves food is communal meals. It derives from the Christian origin of the Last Supper. The Last Supper was Jesus Christ’s last meal that he shared with his apostles before his crucifixion. This meal is a huge symbol for the Christian faith that has translated into communal meals. It is common for those that attend church to share a meal after the service and to socialize with the members of the church community. With many churches they will host BBQ’s or potlucks for the members of the church to come together. The sharing of a meal creates a feeling of belonging, unity, and family. All of the members contribute to this feast, and in turn there is this overwhelming feeling of gratefulness. It gives them a chance to be surrounded by a community of those that share the same faith and beliefs. In my family, I remember that after church everyone would come over and we would all spend time together eating and talking. It was the sense of family that these Sundays created when we had meals together.

Communion is a time period during church where members will receive a piece of bread and a sip of wine. These two substances have such an impactful symbolism within the Christian faith. The bread symbolizes the body of Jesus Christ and the wine is his blood. This is a time the church community comes together to remember and celebrate Jesus Christ. I find it very interesting that this is done through the sharing of one loaf of bread and one cup of wine just as it was done at the last super. It is a spiritual moment that connects the members of the church together by sharing these items. It also connects them to Jesus Christ. By consuming pieces of him they feel closer to his essence so that he may live through them.

I am awe struck at the role food can have in such a powerful belief system. It is a tool that is used to become closer to our spirituality and others in religious communities. When we think of food, we don’t immediately think of its influence and the parts it plays in these larger belief systems. Something so simple as food has the ability to represent life, body, and soul.

Work Cited

Jakoblich, Jon. “Lent in the Catholic Church.” About Catholics. (2013): Web. 26 Sep. 2013. <http://www.aboutcatholics.com/beliefs/lent-in-the-catholic-church/&gt;.

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Culture Shock

Immediately, when I think of food, I think of family and sitting around a dinner table with my parents sharing stories from our day. I was raised that at dinner you have a balanced plate of protein, starch, and vegetables. I can honestly say that type of dinner has stuck with me to this day. Even in college, I take the time to have a starch, vegetable, and protein at every dinner. My view of food may be completely different than yours, as it should be. We all come from different walks of life. However, there are some extreme differences that can be seen country to country.

This week, I interviewed two students on campus. They have been to different countries all over the world and experienced life in those countries. Chantal Richards, journalism major at Chico State, lived in South Africa for 15 years and has lived in the America for the last 8 years. When I asked her how she thought American’s viewed food, she explained that in her eyes they take for granted all the food they have. They waste so much more food than what she is used to. When she first got here, she noticed, “that the portions were huge and would take up the entire plate. Where I grew up, it was a quarter of the size of an American meal, and you would also get a lot more nutrition per plate.” In South Africa, food is a staple that not everyone is so lucky to have. Food is generally cherished when you have it. Chantal explained, “In South Africa, you did not waste food. You ate what was on your plate.” There was starvation everywhere, so when you did have food, you appreciated it. The United States is not so afraid of starvation. It is one of the most prosperous countries in the world when it comes to food. However, this does not translate in the amounts of food they waste. 21% of the US’s waste comes from food (“U.S. Environmental Protection Agency”). That number is very difficult for me to wrap my head around. But then I really think about it. Those leftovers I threw away because maybe it doesn’t taste as good reheated. The fruit I let spoil. The last bit of pasta that didn’t look like it could make a full meal. That is all food that we could have saved and consumed. Now if that is just my actions, think of the 313.9 million people in the US that might be doing similar things. It’s unbelievable how much as a country we waste simply because we know we can just get more.

The United States differs with other countries also on how meal times are viewed. Mary Swearinger, anthropology major at Chico State, has spent a month each in Antigua and Malta. Antigua is a small island in the West Indies and Malta is an island in the Mediterranean. While there, she did anthropological work and spent a lot of time absorbing the culture. When I asked about how the Maltese view food, she stated, “it’s how they socialize and express their creativity.” She explained that they have a festival of food called Festa. It can last up to 3 days. It is one giant potluck with music, fireworks, and marching bands. But the food is the spotlight of the entire event. It shows how these people value food and how it can bring a large group of people together. While in Malta, she discovered that a lot of things were done over food. At night, everyone in the family would attend dinner. If you were not at dinner, you did not eat.  Dinner was where they socialized and bonded as a family. I feel like that is something that the average American family has lost. We as a culture are always on the go, or busy with other things. Instead of making time to sit down as a family, we pick up fast food, microwave dinners, or skip a meal. However if we make meals, like dinner, into an event that you attend and cook as a family, we would make a lot better decision about what we eat. Most families would take the time to plan out the meal, rather than picking something easy and not as nutritious.

While talking to both of these women, they both mentioned something interesting. Compared to other countries, our protein portion of a meal is quite large. In the US, the protein is usually the star of a meal. In other countries, the majority of the meal is bread or vegetables, while the protein portion is the smallest. I find this funny because on a food pyramid, protein is a rather small portion of your daily diet. I do think that as a country, America should try to lower the amount of meat they eat. But I believe that will be very difficult. The American culture is surrounded by meat. Barbeques for example, a common American tradition is an event where people gather to grill meat. I myself love barbequing, but I am starting to realize it shouldn’t be the focus of the entire meal. Things like wine and starches shouldn’t have to complement the meal. The protein should complement them.

While all of these countries are different, the thing in common is that we all need to eat food. How we eat it and what we eat is never going to be the same. But we can learn from each other and grow as a civilization from it. I hope you will take this all into consideration and maybe improve some of your habits at your next meal.

Work Citation

“Reducing Food Waste for Businesses.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 19 Sep. 2013. <http://www.epa.gov/foodrecovery/&gt;.

Introduction and You Are What You Eat

Hello my wonderful readers! As this is my first post I wanted to take some time to explain this little project I am doing. I am an honors student at California State University, Chico. As an honors student I must complete a project or thesis as my capstone for graduation. I decided to do this blog for my capstone. The theme of the blog is Know It Before You Eat It. I have always firmly believed in this saying, but I wanted to take it one step further. As a college student this is the time to explore different topics and ask the why questions. In the span of this semester I want to explore basic nutrition and different topics that are contained within nutrition itself. So some weeks I might explore lifestyles, science, ethics, religion, or even philosophy within nutrition. It will be interdisciplinary of different areas I have learned about in my college career. I will share all my discoveries here and analyze them. I hope that this project can inspire others to ask more about the foods they eat, because knowledge is the key to a healthy and happy lifestyle.

So to start this blog off I want to dive into the old saying “you are what you eat.” This saying is the honest truth. To explain, think of our bodies as machines. In order to fuel our bodies you must supply it with food. The body then breaks down, metabolizes, the food into supplies that our bodies use. So for example, calories are found in almost all foods. Calories are metabolized in the body to heat, which is used for energy. So depending on how many calories you intake depends how much energy your body has to work with. Think of calories as the gas to keep your body going. Your tank only needs a certain amount depending on you as a person. We tend to eat a lot more calories than are actually necessary for our body to function. In America we also have a tendency to eat empty calories, which are calories that don’t provide a lot of beneficial nutrients. That’s why its better to eat fruits and vegetables because they provide low calories and tons of nutrients. It also means you can eat more of them.

Water is also another huge part of our bodies. It makes up 60% of the body so in turn it makes up a large part of our diet. Think of water as the lubricant for our body. I do understand our body sounds a lot like a car, but just go with it. That lubricant helps all of our organs and moving body parts function. It also regulates body temperature and is a solvent, meaning it dissolves other substances. It carries nutrients and other materials around the body. On average you need 6 to 12 cups of water a day just to replenish the water used for bodily functions. You can now see how vital water is to our bodies, and yet most people struggle with getting enough. A way to improve your water intake is to carry a water bottle around so that on a regular basis you can drink, rather than waiting till meals to drink.

Micronutrients also make up your body. For example, Vitamin D is necessary for your body to be able to absorb and use minerals. So with out adequate Vitamin D intake you would not be able to absorb Calcium, which is essential for hardening your teeth and bones. Charlotte Martin, a PhD Candidate on Human Molecular Nutrition at the University of New Castle, writes about how nutrients interact with your body and also your genes. “One example of gene-nutrient interaction can be found in cases of vitamin deficiencies. A vitamin deficiency can be caused by either insufficient intake or by the body’s ability to metabolize it because of a genetic variation” (Martin). Think of vitamins and minerals as the gears of our body. They are crucial for parts of the body to do basic functions. It’s important to know which foods give you these daily vitamins and minerals so that you are aware if you are lacking in an area. Fruits and vegetables usually have high doses of these and are just another reason you should eat more of them.

“Dean Ornish, MD, and his colleagues did a study of assigning men with prostate cancer to a “clean living” intervention that included a wholesome, plant-based diet; regular physical activity; and stress management, they demonstrated a marked reduction in the activity of genes that can promote prostate cancer grown and a significant increase in the genes that are able to control it” (Katz). It’s all about what is put into your system that will either help it run smoothly or create more difficulties for it. You only get one body so I feel we should do everything we can to keep it in tiptop shape. So obviously this would involve eating the best we can to provide it with the best tools and resources. I have such a passion for nutrition because I personally love myself and I think everyone is constantly striving for that. One of the ways I celebrate myself is taking care of my body. It just naturally makes me feel happier knowing that I am doing good for myself by providing myself with nutritious food.  This is why I want to strive to help us all know it before we eat it.

Work Citation

Katz, David. “Mom Was Right: You Are What You Eat.” NBC News. (2010): Web. 18 Sep. 2013. <http://www.nbcnews.com/id/35350889/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/mom-was-right-you-are-what-you-eat/

Martin, Charlotte. “Personalized nutrition unravels why you are what you eat.” Conversation. (2013): Web. 18 Sep. 2013. <http://theconversation.com/personalised-nutrition-unravels-why-you-are-what-you-eat-12668&gt;.