The Stewardship of Eating

I have met people – ok, just one person comes to mind – who don’t like to eat. I am not one of those people. Food is to be savor end and enjoyed. It inspires conversation and gives space at the table for connection. I don’t understand what is not to be enjoyed any better than I can understand it as a simple biological function. No, to me, eating is as close as I can get to God.

With that holy awareness comes lots of responsibility. The church that I’m serving as interim pastor just spent the last several weeks rolling and dipping peanut butter and coconut filled chocolate eggs. Today was pick up day. It was the day that all of the orders were filled and the hard work of selling these eggs to friends and family begins. For, you see, it’s also their biggest fundraiser of the year. I watched in coffee hour as orders were piled. I noted some overwhelming preference for the peanut butter filled and then I went into the kitchen to try to get a few for myself. I had somehow failed to place an order and I was feeling guilty. Guilt, as you know, is an awesome motivator for holy observance. So I was ready to spend my money on the ministry of this church except that I didn’t actually want the eggs.

Two weeks ago, I happily wolfed down two boxes of Girl Scout cookies. (I had help.) But, as the wedding gets closer and closer, I’m making better decisions about what I eat. I don’t like that my upcoming wedding has made me into the most vain person alive but resistance seems futile. So, I stopped myself from buying the eggs. There are other ways that I can contribute to the ministry of this church. I can practice stewardship in so many other ways.

Stewardship is really all about making choices to savor and uphold what matters most. It is a practice that starts at the table. This week, the weather is going to be off-the-charts beautiful. It’s going to be in the 70s and the sun is going to be shining and I want more than anything for one of our local farmers markets to open. But, I have to wait another six weeks and it is agony! It is not only because I miss the produce but that I don’t know how to practice my faith at the table when I can’t get local produce. I do not believe the signs at the supermarket. I want to support my farmers directly. I want to be connected to their work and their love. It is part of what makes eating so holy for me. It’s a practice I began around the same time that Barbara Kingsolver wrote Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in which her husband Steven Hopp expresses the stewardship in my heart:

“If you’re picturing Farmer Juan and his family gratefully wiping sweat from their brows when you buy that Ecuadorian banana, picture this instead: the CEO of Dole Inc. in his air-conditioned office in Westlake Village, California. He’s worth $1.4 billion; Juan gets about $6 a day. Much money is made in the global reshuffling of food, but the main beneficiaries are processors, brokers, shippers, supermakets, and oil companies.”

I want my money and my life to support Farmer Juan, not the corporations. I want to build up God’s people with love. But, in this place, there are no alternatives to the summer farmers markets. It baffles and frustrates me but I try to keep the faith and hold onto my holy practice as best I can.

So, I’m furiously googling to see if there might be some slim chance that there is a farm on the way to my meetings this week. No such luck yet so I’m off to the grocery store today. Last week, I brought this delicious salad to share with an old friend who just had a baby. It was so good. I want to eat it all of the time. Because the weather is suppose to be nice, I am hoping my beloved might be willing to grill. I pulled our Bon Appetit Grilling Guide from last summer off the shelf and found this recipe in its pages. My beloved has been hankering for some Korean BBQ so this should be perfect. We will enjoy this on the side. The weather also makes me want to eat a ton of salads so we’ll be enjoy this one and this one this week. I also have a hankering for hummus so I’ll be making this delicious hummus that is all the rage. We’ll enjoy it with this.

I don’t feel like I’m at my best in practicing stewardship but I’m trying. I still eat bananas but I’m trying. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the practice to which I aspire, but I’m trying. That has to be enough for today. How do you practice a stewardship of eating?

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