About that Food Focus…

jam collageBlackberries: we pick them, we process them, and we enjoy the jam! 

When I first started this blog, I said that it was “the spiritual side of our larger quest to live (and eat!) more seasonally.” Yes, food is very important to our family. Frankly, I’m surprised it hasn’t come up before now. And the more I think about it, the harder it is to separate food and life from spirituality. So. Here we go.

Mr. M and I would both rank food as one of our greatest pleasures in life. In fact, according to the Dante’s Inferno Test, the terrace of Gluttony is a Top Three contender for where we’d both spend our purgation. (Do I believe in Purgatory? Not in the classic Catholic sense. Do I believe in appreciating and mulling over medieval literature? Heck, yeah!)

To explain our family’s love affair with eating, I must once again return to Wendy Mogul. In Blessing of a Skinned Knee, she encourages an attitude of “moderation, celebration, and sanctification” that will help us find the proper balance between “eating to live and living to eat” (34, 163). Mogul views food as “a sacred gift” that we eat “to keep ourselves healthy and to enhance the pleasure of life’s happy events.” She encourages families to remind themselves “who the food is from (God), what it is for (to fuel us to be of service to others), and what attitude we should have toward it (both self-discipline and full enjoyment)” (165).

So, yes. We want our children to be ethical and knowledgeable eaters. It should be no secret that a pig died so that we could have our bacon. And as they get older, we want to make it even more explicit that our omnivorous eating choices require a ton more of the Earth’s resources than being vegetarian or vegan. Which will inevitably beg the question (especially from Big Sis), “Why aren’t we vegetarian, then, if it’s better for the Earth?”

And if either of our children decide to be vegetarian or vegan, we will support that choice wholeheartedly. But we will also explain that we continue to eat meat for several reasons. First and foremost, it brings us pleasure and helps us to savor life. We value this. Secondly, eating can be a tangible, deeply enjoyable way to experience other cultures… and we want access to the full range of world cuisine. Finally, omnivorous eating allows us to comfortably provide and receive hospitality with all of our family and friends. (Example: my 86-year-old grandma is rightly proud of her meatloaf. We like eating and appreciating a meal she’s been making twice as long as I’ve been alive.)

Ugh. I hope this post doesn’t smack of self-righteousness. To be clear, I’m the mom who packed Cheetos and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for our zoo trip because, hey, Mama just wants to get on the road. And the real reason I’m writing this post at all is because my mom just dropped off a load of fruit from their backyard trees. I want to blog a list of things I plan to do with the apples, and that didn’t feel relevant without a bit of ideological prefacing!

And speaking of ideology… too often, I only focus on where I’m falling short of my values and where I can improve. I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one. So… give yourself a few props. What’s one thing you do on a semi-regular basis that shows a strong alignment between your values and behaviors?

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