WWJE? Pt 1: You Are What You Eat
I’ve flirted with starting a blog dedicated to my obsession with food. For now I will settle for a series of posts on this blog called What Would Jesus Eat? The first posts will give a glimpse into the history of my personal obsession. Later we’ll look at some of the issues that food connects such as poverty/hunger, globalization, creation care, table fellowship as well as health and wellness.
When I think about my relationship with food, I immediately think about my vegetarianism. But I have only been vegetarian for seven years and I’m 29. You do the math. I’ve been eating my whole life… pretty much every day. I grew up in rural Texas on a quasi-farm. We never depended on livestock or crops for our livelihood, but we were always raising something: sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, horses.
One year… and one year only… I raised a sheep for the county livestock show. Mainly this involved getting up before the sun to walk/run my sheep in circles for 30 minutes or so. Every day before school I got up and did this. You get to know an animal when you spend this much time together. My sheep had a name that I no longer remember. It had a personality, moods and emotions. I’m not claiming animals have the consciousness of humans, but they become more than an object when you spend this much time getting to know them.
If I remember right my sheep was a mutton. As a member of the male half of the species I am ashamed to say that I have participated in turning sheep into muttons. This involves super thick tiny rubber circles that are stretched open by a four-pronged contraption. The stretched out rubber band is then placed around the testicles which eventually fall off due to lack of circulation. This is the same way we cut their tails short. It’s hard not to feel for an animal when you’ve been an accomplice to emasculating it.
The time finally came for the stockshow. If you’re not from rural america, you don’t realize what a big deal this is. We get time off from school and the whole town turns out to the fairgrounds. It was the only time I’ve ever donned a pair of boots. I don’t even remember how my sheep did… not well is all I can say. But I distinctly remember the feeling afterwards when, I realized that the next step was the auction. My sheep would be bought by someone or some group of people and turned into food of some sort. Without testicles this poor guy was just dinner for a month for somebody.
This isn’t why I became vegetarian (more on that later). I really don’t have any objections to eating meat per se. Hunting has been a part of human existence for millenia. In the past though, eating meat meant being intimately connected and aware of where your food came from. You either hunted it or were involved in the preparation. Most of my life I have been very disconnected from the sources of my food. But growing up on our quasi-farm and making deer sausage with my Dad and Opa at least gave me a sense of the give and take of eating… at least more than most Americans, who think that meat comes from the grocery store and cheese comes in slices.
Next time… You Kill It, You Eat It