Today's Religions: Culinary Correctness

Arriving in urban northern California in the early 2000’s I noticed that people were doing cleanses. Others were eating raw. Organic was becoming a thing. Eggs had to be free-range. Hormone-free eventually arrived in most grocery stores. People cared deeply about their food choices, and would go to great lengths to discipline their lives to match their culinary doctrines.

Being a pastor, I was beginning to find these threads of food religion ironically legalistic, held mostly by people who complained of the ethical straight-jacket of the Christian religion. The culture had gleefully freed themselves of any restrictions with what is done to a woman’s breast (“that’s your own business!”) meanwhile slamming the book down on the handling of a chicken breast.

Writer Alice Waters exemplified this trend: “Every single choice we make about food matters, at every level. The right choice saves the world.” Wow! That sounds a lot like a preacher! I fear I’m coming off a little judgey. I should clarify that I don’t have this figured out and that I enjoy a lot of the culture around food in which Sacramento allows me to regularly participate.

But I begin to wonder about the spiritual effect on people. Saving the world, every day, every meal, every bite sounds noble and courageous at first…until it becomes the freight that causes the bridge to crumble under it’s impossible load.