A Critique: Food Choices and the Food Movement

In recent months, I’ve been encouraged by others to think a bit more critically about my families food choices. I’ve since watched and read a bit and I find myself still a bit skeptical. If an outsiders generalization of my readers is correct, my skepticism regarding the popular food trends of local and organic might be a bit controversial to you reading. I’m hoping it is, because I’d like to get some feedback and thoughts on the topic and am quite open to having my views changed.

I have to start with a bit of a disclaimer. There are a lot of things espoused by the food movement that my family is already doing. We’ve almost always composted and recycled. We don’t buy a ton of processed foods (microwave type stuff) and we don’t eat red meat much (I never ate it growing up). We even bring our own bags usually. Oh, and we’ve tried to garden in some form most summers. So, along the spectrum, there are a lot of things we are already doing. But, there are some things we aren’t.

We shop at Aldis and Cub, not Whole Foods, The Wedge or other organic/coop/local type places (I’ve tried occasionally). We don’t buy organic when it comes to our produce. And we don’t buy free-range, cage-free, grass-fed or anything when it comes to our meat. And, I haven’t been all that compelled to change those choices. Rather, I’ve had some concerns or critiques.

  • The Food Movement seems to be a primarily motivated by self-interest. I’m not saying individuals might have larger societal interest in mind, to that point, the information that’s presented is often in the form of national statistics of obesity, disease, etc. However, the changes that are being done and created are individual family choices. It’s families with the financial means and resources changing their families purchasing habits. I’ve seen very little collective action to encourage more systemic change (Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution might be a minor exception).
  • The justification and reaction seems to be from one extreme to the other. It’s clear our nation has some health issues, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, so on and so forth. And I definitely agree our eating habits are heavily at fault. We eat very unhealthy, highly processed food, and far too much of it (this last part is my vice). However, I don’t think the only solution is to buy local and organic. We’d be a much healthier nation if we ate more fruits and vegetables, organic or not.

There’s more thoughts I’ve had, but at risk of making this too long and not getting some conversation going, I’ll stop here. I’d love to hear your thoughts about food, organic, local, etc and why your making the current choices you do. And feel free to challenge me on the statements above or choices we make.

Knowing or Doing?

“The Hebrew is concerned with practice, the Greek with knowledge. Right conduct is the ultimate concern of the Hebrew, right thinking that of the Greek.” -William Barrett

I remember learning this distinction between these two ancient ways of thinking sometime shortly after high school when I was at YWAM. The basic idea that some saw “belief” as merely an intellectual exercise, and others as more a matter of action. Our society, and much of the church, is dominated by a Greek way of thinking. So, “believing” in Jesus is mostly a matter of praying a prayer or agreeing to a particular creed.

I’m not sure if it was some traditional Hebraic thinking in me or my love for the book of James, but I remember then immediately being hooked on this concept and that it only made sense that the Hebraic way of thinking, that belief was a matter of action, was the right way. And I still think that today.

I don’t deny that “thinking” and intellectual understanding of ones faith has relevance and impact, but if it’s not coupled with action it seems to lose credibility (though I am certainly not the judge of your beliefs or actions).

The church in the US, at least as I’ve experienced it, seems dominated by this Greek way of thinking. In most churches I’ve been in, if you do not say you believe the basic tenants, if your not a member of the church (which involves stating belief in those basic tenants of the faith), or if you express any intellectual doubt, you will be treated as one who is either not yet part of the fold or one who has fallen away or is in danger of doing so. Yet, that same measure seems to rarely be used in terms of ones actions (and I don’t just mean avoiding the big taboos or helping out at church). The church just doesn’t seem to care all that much if your life looks more like your consumeristic, secular, patriotic neighbor then your homeless, selfless, outcast Savior.

“I will show you my faith by what I do.” -James 2:18