A few months back, a colleague and I had a lovely (and lengthy) conversation. Nearing the end, she indicated that she hoped that our chat hadn’t taken up too much of my time.
“Not to worry!” I said. “It’s sermon-writing and cheese-making day.”
Silence. Then… “Did you say Cheese-making?”
So I explained that I tend to make my cheeses the same day I write my sermons. Cheese-making is a process that takes considerable time, though not a lot of labour. There’s a lot of waiting in the process. So I do other things while waiting on the cheese to do its thing.
Then it dawned on me that perhaps my friend was incredulous not at the sermon/cheese combination, but at the fact that I make my own cheese. Our conversation went into some of the other foods that I prefer to be home grown or made, and why. I prefer my foods to be as local as possible, ideally organic, as GMO-free as possible (not a guarantee with organic foods). I want my food to be ethical, fairly-traded when possible. I prefer not to eat animals (I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian). I avoid gluten (it triggers migraines). And I like to support small, local food producers rather than giant corporations.
And so I garden in the summer, and much gets preserved/canned/frozen/dehydrated. In the fall, seeds get saved for the following year. My indoor herb garden grows year round (with varying degrees of success). My milk and eggs come from local farmers. My cheese and yogurt are made in my own kitchen, I’m (anxiously) awaiting the arrival of my shiitake mushrooms growing kit. I do a lot of my own food prep, avoiding commercially packaged foods as much as possible.
Yes, it takes a bit more time, and a bit more effort, but it’s worth it.
It costs me less money. It reconnects me with the earth. It allows me to avoid some of the scary additives that are in the food system. It allows me to cater to my own personal tastes, not be restricted to what’s already in the package. I can make my cheese without adding calf rennet; I can avoid hidden gluten in foods like French fries; I can keep the amount of sodium I eat to a healthy level.
It’s worth it for me to know what I am eating, to know that I am being nourished by God’s creation rather than a chemists’ lab. It’s worth it to me to put into my body things that have not been patented (some companies are even trying to patent basic fruits and vegetables). It’s worth it to me to know and appreciate what effort has gone into the preparation of the food. It’s worth it to me to feel a part of my own food system rather then merely be a consumer of someone else’s. It’s worth it to me to take the time to plan and prepare my nourishment.
Some dismiss my choices as strange, or call me a tree-hugger/hippie. Some say they’re too busy to do similar things. I see this as a priority – to be intentional about my food, delighting in the abundance God is providing without taking it for granted. I consider it to be using my resources wisely, to be collecting the manna that is being spread out before me day after day. I delight in the opportunity to appreciate the miracle and challenge of taking care of my own food system, of being weird, of having my cheese-making days.
How do you engage with the food system? Do you consider food to be an expression of spirituality?