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 but however Hippocrates meant it, this quote has been used by scientist, physicians and health oriented businesses to reduce food to its ability to treat, prevent and fight disease. This wasn’t the first time that food was reduced and fragmented to use as a means to our ever changing ends. We can trace the misuse of food all the way back to Adam and Eve. 

Perhaps, you remember how the devil promised Adam and Eve 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 nourished and satisfied Adam and Eve’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and relational needs and wants. Eating was part of a daily practice of health that was nothing more and nothing less than a time of rest, restoration and remembrance of who they were and how they were designed to be and live as human beings. 

Unfortunately, the divine picnic took a tragic turn when the devil’s dietary formula for godlike status sent Adam and Eve running from the connection of love and truth to hiding themselves behind some bushes. Adam and Eve’s sin wasn’t a cheat day but it was the believing that something other than truth and love could fill, protect, save, deliver, nourish, satisfy and give them life. Yes, on this day something other than divine love and truth told them who they were and how they were designed to be and live.

Ironically enough, who has not been asked to believe the same lie and constantly offered an alternative identity. In fact, the diet, health and fitness industries have built a billion dollar industry on thousands of products, foods, workouts, medicines, formulas, supplements and diets that promise life and identity (“results guaranteed”). They ask us to believe that transformation is an outside-in job and whatever it is they sell 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 produce wholeness, health and holiness...If we just (eat, lift, drink and obey their formula), then it will result in divine control, wisdom, power, status and worship. 

Whether or not you believe in the Bible is not my point. Rather, the point is that we 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 looking to make a profit off formulas, products and programs have taken advantage of our fragmented selves and our addiction to fig leaves and crumbs. In the diet world, food is not understood as a whole but as a numeric value like calories, macro and micro nutrients, proteins, carbs, fat grams and sugars, and we are just bodies. In the scientific world, food has been reduced to information and we are computers. In the sports and fitness world, food has been reduced to fuel and we are fine tuned machines. 

Industries have made trillions selling food as comfort, status, art and connection. We have been encouraged to use food to express our feelings and 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 offer us nothing less than a modern day promise of godlike perfection and power?

We opened Pandoras Box by believing that we had the divine power to control and use food how we want, when we want, for what we want and to justify what we want but the reality is that food has ended up controlling us and the deeper we go we realize the people controlling food are really the ones who control us. 

Our misuse and misunderstanding of food is not only a result of forgotten truths of who we are and how we are naturally designed to be healthy and whole, but from living as empty consumers and repeatedly trying to use food try to transform our lives. 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, our community and our world. 

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. There is something profoundly mysterious about planting, growing, harvesting and sharing this divine gift 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 to remember the gift of ourselves, our neighbors, our communities and our world.