Sunday, 11 November 2012

Thinking theologically about junk foods

Notes for a workshop at the EWDC Food Matters Conference, 1-3 October, 2012
What is junk food?
  • Unhealthy, high in saturated fat, salt, added sugar; fat from animals rather than plants. 
  • Unsustainably produced (without regard to the depletion of resources (earth, land, water) and degradation of the environment (global warming); fat from animals rather than plants  
  • Unjustly produced, derived from products produced with cheap labour 
  • Highly processed to ensure a cheap, transportable, imperishable, unhealthy source of calories.   

Is junk food just celebratory food eaten routinely?
  • Coca-cola, chocolate, etc used only to be eaten at weekends, parties, celebrations but are now eaten on a daily basis 
  • But not all celebratory foods (champagne,birthday cake, etc) are junk foods by definition above.
What Biblical themes and principles might help us to think about junk food?
Food is a precious gift from God to be treated with respect.
  • Genesis 1: 29. Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”
Human beings are to use the earth to produce food but they are also look after it
  • Genesis 2: 15. The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
The earth will produce enough food for everyone (and more) if we do not exploit it
  • Revelation 6:6. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”
How does the idea that we are to act as stewards of the earth when producing foods affect our attitudes towards junk food?
God’s justice for the poor is intimately connected with food justice. Food justice is redistributive
  • Isaiah 57: 6-7 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry…
God’s (food) justice is also fair
  • Amos 8: 4-8. Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, “When will…the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?” skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales,… selling even the sweepings with the wheat.

 Flouting of God’s laws re. the distribution of food leads to environmental destruction.
  • Amos 8: 4-8. Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, “When will…the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?” skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales,… selling even the sweepings with the wheat. The Lord has sworn by himself… “I will never forget anything they have done. Will not the land tremble for this, and all who live in it mourn?”
Is it just to produce, market and eat junk food?
Eating should ideally be done at meals to which all are invited, where food is shared, where food is eaten reverently – as if it is Christ’s body. 
  • I Corinthians 11: 2-33. So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk
Could some junk food (say the iced biscuits pictured) be eaten instead of bread at a Communion/Eucharist/Mass? If not why not?
Greed is a bad thing. Sharing is a good thing. Consumption/shopping is not the only thing that defines us
  • Luke 12: 16-21 And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, `What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, `Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
But how (and what?) we eat expresses who we are.
  • Matthew 11: 19 T "But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates, `We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon'; the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds."
Our holding on to the way things stops us from seeing the way things could be.
  • Mark 10: 17 – 23 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good - except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
 How do we find/loose our identity in eating junk food?
Other possible themes: Incarnation, Resurrection, Sabbath

No comments:

Post a Comment