Eat your bread in happiness

A week ago I finished reading Raj Patel’s new book, Stuffed and Starved, and can say without a doubt that it was a huge eye opener.

I’m not a math kinda guy, so a lot of the economic things he said were lost on me, but I definitely understood enough to see that the international food system right now is in no way a just one.

At his website, he gives a condensed list of some suggestions he has for action, one of which I want to highlight here:

2. Eat locally and seasonally.
You can find resources on eating locally and seasonally here – but the joy of it is that eating locally and seasonally happens most easily and healthily by growing the food oneself. Nothing tastes like a homegrown tomato. Why not google your local allotments and gardening centres to see what resources they can offer?

Now, I don’t have the money or the time at the moment to start growing all my own food, but I have been trying to take this point to heart. Frankly, I have no right not to, given the enormous amount of suffering the international trade of food is causing people. Eating locally is a necessary first step. Ignorance is really no excuse; with little effort I was able to find a cookbook with seasonal and local recipes for a reasonable price. It isn’t that difficult to do.

I have to say, forcing myself to drink and eat less pre-prepared food (including my much beloved coffee) has made me realize how much sub-standard food we actually consume. Patel has an interesting quote related to this on the site I just mentioned:

As Marco Flavio Marinucci says at his Cook Here and Now website,

Evolution gave us the gift of having to eat frequently: Let’s not treat it as a chore. I believe that when we devote attention to what we do, we feel more satisfied and satiated by it. Each meal gets my full and undivided attention. Choosing the best ingredients from what’s in season locally, preparing the dishes from scratch as often as time allows, and keeping in mind who’s sharing them – it’s all gastronomical foreplay that creates the emotional build-up released in a delightful meal.

Now, if Marinucci has enough awareness to realize that the joy of eating is something he has to be grateful for, even though he thinks that joy was given to him by a series of purposeless events, shouldn’t Christians be doing even better? Should we not be even more grateful, and even more focused on preparing and eating food in a way that recognizes the great many varieties of food and the gift of artistic talent that God has given to us?

Solomon once wisely wrote:

Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already approved your works. Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have laboured under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9:7-9)

I think we need to consider this more, as 21st century Christians; the greatest earthly gifts in life are the simplest: shelter, drink, love, food. Let’s not squander them, nor abuse them through negligence.