Category Archives: Community

Food Revolution Day

Image via Jamie Oliver's website.

Image via Jamie Oliver’s website.

Today feels a little like Christmas to me.

Chef Jamie Oliver created a day to literally bring the world together on an issue that no single human being can avoid: the food we eat.

He calls it Food Revolution Day, and today is the day. He’s imploring anyone and everyone to “Cook it, Share it, or Live it” in hopes to shine a worldwide spotlight on the quality of food and cooking around the world (hint: it’s not great).

For Food Revolution Day, Oliver wants us in our kitchens cooking from scratch. Or, shouting as loud as possible on social media. Or, signing petitions to get more food education in our schools, or better lunch meat at schools.

I admire Oliver so much for taking up this important cause and using his platform as a celebrity chef for something so positive.

What do I mean by platform?  Have you ever read the book “Platform” by Michael Hyatt?

The official title of the book is: “Platform: Get Noticed in Noisy World” which pretty much sums it up.

It’s a fantastic, practical book that teaches you to use the proper building blocks to increase your audience; to build your platform.

For some of us, we want a platform to grow our business. Or our blog. For Oliver, it’s a cause. A cause that in so many ways could save the world.

He built a platform on cooking shows and cookbooks. Now, he’s one of our leading voices in changing what we eat. In getting back into the kitchen and (re)learning the cooking traditions of past generations.

But what about the rest of us? What if we don’t have a NY Times bestselling cookbook? Or a blog that gets 80 bazillion page views a day?

Our platform is with our friends. Our family. Our communities.

Are we using our platforms for good? Are we trying to make a difference in and around the people we can influence?

We need to be.  As Christians, using our platform for good is the best thing we could be doing.  Yes, there’s been plenty of negative stories that have come out about Christianity in the last few years. But what if we all used our platforms—however large or small they may be—for good?

How many people could we bless? Could we change the world?

For me, I care about food. I know first-hand about how good food makes a difference—sometimes a miraculous one—in your life (I’ll post more on that topic next week).  For me, I want to use my platform to engage people of the Christian faith in the same fight that Jamie Oliver is leading; get back to the earth. Get back to eating foods that come from the earth and not a box. Get back in the kitchen.

What do you care about? And how could you use your platform for good?

 

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The Good Soil: Part I

Our church community garden as of May 11, 2013.

It started with a small idea.

Now it’s growing.

An idea popped into my head one day and I asked my husband, “what if we started a community garden at church?”

We have land that we’re not really using to it’s fullest extent at church and I felt we had an opportunity to do something that benefits our church community and possibly the community surrounding us, if we can grow enough food.

So I asked a couple of women at my church what they thought, and they kind of ran with it.

Here is where we started, March 24.

The "before" photo of our community garden.

The “before” photo of our community garden.

And here we were April 20 with some corn popping up.

2013-04-20 10.20.31

We also cleared (well, some of us super-strong women pulled up the first two and then we mostly left things to a chainsaw) these shrubs and have planted some basil and hope to have a fruit tree or two here:

photo 3

As of May 11, you can see what it looks like at the top of this post and below. It’s a little weedy, but awesome! Corn, tomatoes, zucchini and bell peppers.

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I’m so excited we’re starting to see our crops grow, and I hope we can be blessing to our community in this way.

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what is sown.” (Matthew 13:23)

 

What Would (Ancient) Egypt Do?

Image by listentoreason via Flickr.

Image by listentoreason via Flickr.

My memories about what I learned at church about Israel and Egypt in Biblical times goes something like this:

Egypt is bad, and Israel is good.

We talk a lot more about Israel than Egypt. God has to keep reminding Israel to follow Him.  He forgives them, but they need a lot of reminding.

The Israelites even wander in the wilderness for 40 years, where God only provided manna and quail for them to eat. Ellen F. Davis says the following about the Exodus in her book “Scripture, Culture and Agriculture: an Agrarian Reading of the Bible”:

“…this story makes it clear that manna is both a gift and a test, like the land of Canaan itself. It is given on certain conditions and thus is meant to reveal whether Israel will walk by God’s teaching or not.”

Davis echoes in that passage what God said to Moses in Exodus 16:4 about testing the Israelites in this way. Davis discusses that God wanted Israel to live in direct contrast to how Egypt lived; a huge part of that goes back to how and what the Israelites ate.

“These were highly stratified, strongly militarized societies in which the whole land belonged (at least in name) to the monarch. In practical terms, that meant the wealth of the land flowed upward, away from the small farmers, serfs, and slaves who composed the overwhelming majority of the population, to the large landowners, the nobility, the great temples, and the crown.”

Sound familiar?

Egypt had such an abundance of resources they stored up food in huge silos. Egypt had one harvest per year, but they had such a surplus they traded on the international market, which just put more money in Pharaoh’s pocket.

We see Israel in ourselves; we feel like the oppressed.  We never want to think of ourselves as big, bad Egypt, throwing our weight around on the international market and becoming so wealthy, we think we don’t need any help from God. That we’re doing just fine on our own. But in America, we need to face the truth.

Egypt is exactly who we are.

So the Egypt/Israel/manna story serves as a great reminder that God doesn’t want us to live the way Egypt lived at that time. He felt making that point so important that Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. In that time they learned, or were reminded that God sustains us. God provides.

When we don’t trust that, we hoard God’s gifts. Or worse, we waste them. Or, we create an industrial farming system that is unsustainable and damaging to our health in the name of satisfying our wants. What we perceive that we need.

God gave us what we need, especially when it comes to food. We need to keep it simple, and trust that what God provides is enough.

What the World Needs Now is Love…or Cooking

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Image via Wikimedia Commons

My first foray into cooking quickly turned into a cooking failure.

And by “cooking” I mean heating up a can of chicken noodle soup on the stove.

I don’t remember how old I was, but my brother was teaching me what to do. He was the soup making expert, because he wouldn’t eat anything that looked like a fruit or vegetable. So he pretty much lived off a diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (one of God’s greatest creations) and Campbell’s bean and bacon soup.

When I tried to pour it from pot to bowl, I didn’t expect the handle to be so hot (insert your own joke here), and I dropped every last bit of it down the sink.

I remember thinking then, in between thoughts of New Kids on the Block: I’ll never be able to cook. I’m terrible at it, and it’s not even fun.

Somewhere after college, I realized that I enjoyed cooking immensely. And not just heating up a can of soup.

While it took me a while to get on that bandwagon, I didn’t realize the benefits to cooking your own food.

Mark Bittman’s column in the New York Times this week discusses just that. He spoke with author/journalist/professor Michael Pollan about the importance of cooking.

“Cooking is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your diet. What matters most is not any particular nutrient, or even any particular food: it’s the act of cooking itself,” Pollan said. “People who cook eat a healthier diet without giving it a thought. It’s the collapse of home cooking that led directly to the obesity epidemic.”

What can also get lost when we aren’t cooking? Community.

Obviously, we can go out to eat with people. But cooking with or for someone and sharing food takes your connection to a different level.  You might forget a meal out with friends, but you don’t ever forget when a person cooked for you. There’s some fundamental difference there.

Think of how often God stresses community in the Bible. Much of the Bible is a story of one community, the Jewish people. In Acts, we read the early church gathered and shared meals every day. He built us to need community, and often times we see that community strengthened in the context of sharing a meal.

Passover is a meal people have shared with family and friends for thousands of years. For Christians, taking communion connects us to the beginning of our faith, a remembrance of the meal Jesus shared with His disciples as one of his final acts before dying on the cross. He ate meals with people most did not want to be seen with (Mark 2: 13-17), and He did that to make a point.

Honestly, how many of the problems and misunderstandings could we solve if we would take the time to share a meal with someone?

In the first chapter their book Food: A Culinary History by Jean-Louis Flandrin and Massimo Montanari they discuss how cooking food changed civilization from the earliest times.

“The social impact of cooking was no doubt more immediately apparent than were its nutritional implications. It encouraged commensalism, or eating with others, and led to a greater division of labor within the group, all of whose members participated in a regular round of activities associated with eating. The result was more complex group organization.”

If we make time for cooking, we’re making time to strengthen our community, to strengthen our relationships with our family, friends and maybe some people we never wanted to put in either of those two categories. We’re making time to live in a way that God intended for us.