Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Framing Food Consumption

Kate at the World's Fair made a nice post yesterday about how we choose our food. She outlined five reasons why we eat what we do. They are money, taste, nutrition, time and source. Her post got me thinking, and I made a comment over there that I think is succint enough for cross listing here. Disclaimer: this is not the most polished of posts; I have not done much background reading on this issue.

I think there is another consideration that could be added to her list, but it probably overlaps some of the other categories, particularly nutrition and source. I call it the body as a temple consideration. The body as a temple is a reverence or awareness of self that connects what you eat with who you are. (Really though, it's just a highfalutin way of saying, "You are what you eat.") I'll get back to my use of religious language, but the concept as I envision it is subscribed to in large number by decidedly secular communities, especially among the co-op rich, collective-friendly, granola mentality of the Pacific Northwest.

Joking aside, I think that the philosophy of consumption, whether it ranges from puritanical teetotaling to vegan/organic to conscious indulgence is governed by more than just social or economic factors. Food consumption can provide a window into the self.

As far as the religious connection is concerned, I think that there is room for this topic to be framed for religious communities in a similar way that climate change/global warming has been. For example, a good number of Christians (even fundamentalists) have adopted global climate change as an important issue of creation stewardship. Some of these people might not 'believe' in evolution and cast askance looks at Science, but none-the-less have adopted many of the same strategies to forestall global warming as the most outspoken environmentalist groups. If, as I believe is a goal at the World's Fair, we are to elevate the conversation about food choice, consumption and calorie origin, it might be worth the while to identify ways to involve the body as a temple concept as a tap into the organization and energy that certain Christian movements have.

Finally, I probably do not need to remind you that the body as a temple is not a new idea. Blessed food has a thousands of year history in Abrahamic traditions, and is so ubiquitous it is not given a second look in markets and pantries. Many Eastern traditions have similar prescriptions. I think this could be a very useful idea for discussions on the topic of food.

What do you think about this idea? It may not even be new as I have presented it, but if it isn't, why do you think we have not heard more about it?

1 comment:

Kate Lee said...

Thomas Robey, you rule. I love thinking about how every single one of our choices affects our definition of who we are, and food is an obvious and very important one. It also makes me think that I got a lot of my respect for food and desire to pause to honor every meal from my (somewhat traditional, though secular) Jewish upbringing. I always loved the different prayers for different foods, and the way rituals always revolved around food. Thank you for your comment.