Essay #3 in Let food Be Thy Gift.
The Fall of Food
In the 5th Century, Hippocrates of Cos, who is considered the father of Western medicine said, “Let food be thy medicine be thy food.” The context of this quote has been argued for centuries. However Hippocrates meant it, this quote has now been used by scientists, physicians and health oriented businesses to reduce food to a medicine and to its natural ability to treat disease.
This wasn’t the first time that food was reduced, fragmented and used as a means to man’s ends and it wasn’t going to be the last time either. Interestingly enough, we can trace the misuse of food all the way back to Adam and Eve.
Perhaps, you remember the biblical story of Adam and Eve and how the serpent promised them equality with God, if they would eat the forbidden fruit. Before this event and the devil’s dietary formula of divine perfection, the Garden of Eden had been a perfect place where food, water, sunshine, nature, animals, breath, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sex, movement, love, relationship and life were received and given as divine gifts that completely satisfied Adam and Eve’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and relational needs and wants. Eating was daily ritual that was nothing more and nothing less than a time of rest, encouragement, nourishment and remembrance of who they were and how they were designed to be and live as healthy, whole and holy human beings.
Unfortunately, the divine picnic did not last forever but took a tragic turn when the devil’s dietary formula for godlike status sent Adam and Eve running from their perfect relationship with love and truth to covering their naked selves with fig leaves and hiding in some bushes. No, Adam and Eve’s sin wasn’t just some epic cheat day but a choice to believe that something other than truth and love could fill, protect, save, deliver, nourish, satisfy, encourage and give them life. They chose to believe and put their trust in something finite (themselves and their own reason) rather than Love and Truth to tell them who they were and how they were designed to be and live.
Ironically enough, there’s not been a day in human history that every human being has not been asked to believe the same lie and offered the same formula in which they can have it all… if they just eat, buy, drink, take and do something. When you think about it, food seems to be one of the fastest, easiest, and most popular ways to get us to do what someone else wants us to do. In the Bible, Esau sold his birthright for some soup, Snow White ate the apple, in Narnia Edmund gave up his siblings for some Turkish delight, Hansel and Gretel were captured because of some gingerbread and millions of grilled chicken breast have been sold and devoured with fantasies of six pack abs and buns of steel.
Does food really have this much power over us or is it that in order for food to be used as a means to an end, we have already forgotten who we are and how we are designed, and we are using ourselves as a means to an end?
The diet, health and fitness industries make trillions selling products, foods, workouts, medicines, formulas, supplements, surgeries and diets that promise life and identity…“results guaranteed.” For decades, they have asked us to believe that transformation is an outside-in job and every new product, pill, procedure and program has the divine power to fill us up, protect us, save us, deliver us, give us life and tell us who we are.
We are continually tempted to believe that we can get wholeness, health and holiness through food. How many times have we been told “if we just eat this food, do this workout, drink this shake or take these supplements or medicines, then we will lose 30lbs in 10 days, have six pack abs, live to a 100, be the strongest man or woman ever.” The formula sounds so simple but this simple formula is more complex that what it seems because the formula doesn’t just offer us great bodies and long lives. What the formula is really saying and selling is the belief that “If we just obey the formula, then it will result in control, wisdom, power, status and we will be worshiped, and we will be gods!”
Yes, I am trying to prove a point and it’s not about the Bible. Rather, the point is that every single one of us have misused food by reducing it to a means to an end because we have been lured into a fragmented view of ourselves, our neighbor and our world. Every industry that has been built to make a profit off formulas, products and programs have taken advantage of our fragmented selves and our addiction to lies.
These industries are not interested in truth because truth would set us free from treadmills, weight loss formulas, supplements, experts, superfoods and results. Rather, they keep the lie going by selling us these measly crumbs that distract us from feeling our deep and infinite hunger for wholeness and from knowing who we are and how we are naturally designed to be healthy human beings. In the diet world, food is not understood by its wholeness but as a numeric value like calories, macro and micro nutrients, proteins, carbs, fat grams and sugars. Consequently in order for this to work or make sense to the industry experts and profiters, we human beings must be reduced to physical bodies. In the scientific world, food is reduced to information and we are computers. In the sports and fitness world, food is reduced to fuel and we, of course, are machines.
There should be no surprise that industries have redefined food to use as a means to their ends but what should surprise us is that they have redefined human beings to also use as a means to their ends.
These industries have no problem selling food as comfort, status, art and connection. We have been encouraged to use food to not only express our feelings, but also to eat our feelings. We are continually primed, tempted and manipulated to believe that consuming the right food, at the right time, in the right portions and prepared the right way will not only make us feel good, but transform our thoughts, bodies, relationships and lives. What are diets other than the promise of love, acceptance, value, health, control and transformation? Does the diet, fitness and food industries tempt us with nothing less than a modern day promise of godlike perfection and power?
We opened Pandoras Box when we believed that we had the divine power to control and use food how we want, when we want, and to justify what we want. We thought we had sovereign control over food, when the reality is that food has ended up controlling us and if we dare look a little deeper, then we will see that the people controlling food are really the ones controlling us.
Our misuse and misunderstanding of food is a result of forgotten truths of who we are and how we are naturally designed to be a healthy being, a whole being, a holy being and a human being…and not a disconnected, empty and fragmented consumer. Our addictive behaviors with food, the “customized” diet formulas that we blindly believe and the “health and wellness” industries that have profited off of the fragmentation of food and the reduction of human beings reflects more than our dysfunctional relationship with food but our dysfunctional relationship with ourselves.
I would like to put all the blame of our diet-related sickness and diseases on these industries but I can’t because we have forgotten who we are and they have taken advantage of our not knowing the truth that we are not consumers, machines, computers or just physical bodies. In order for us to right these wrongs and stop being taken advantage of, we must remember the truth.
We are human beings and we are naturally designed to be healthy, whole and holy. To be healthy is to be whole, it is to be connected spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically and relationally both internally and externally. When we live as fragmented people, then we will eat, exercise, think and feel in fragmented ways and rob ourselves of the daily opportunities to nourish our whole person with the gift of food and the gift of ourselves. There is something profoundly mysterious about planting, growing, harvesting and sharing these divine gifts with our fellow human beings. It is time we rediscover the gift of food that nourishes our spirits, hearts, minds, bodies and relationships and helps us remember the gift of ourselves, our neighbors, our communities and our world.