In preparation for a Lenten series on food ethics, I have been reading, watching and researching everything I can get my hands on. If it is related to hunger, nutrition, or the global food systems … chances are it’s either in my Already Read It pile, or my To Be Read pile.
All that I have read and learned has affected the way I purchase and prepare food. Until this week, though, I didn’t realize how little it had affected my attentiveness to the meal itself.
I have a friend who is visually impaired and, at a recent event, I happened to be standing nearby as her pastor assisted her in navigating the buffet line and filling her plate. He described each dish on the heavy-laden table and she, in turn, gave him directions on the appropriate portion size.
It occurred to me that, in comparison, I had filled my plate rather carelessly. If someone had taken my plate from me and asked me to recall and describe its contents from memory, I am fairly certain I would have failed. (I think there was a turkey sandwich involved. Or was it ham?)
How am I (or any of us) to be mindful of the ethical implications of our food choices without first becoming mindful of the meal itself? I’m convinced that it cannot be done.
Chef and author Dan Barber (with whom I am secretly in love) explained in an interview (I’m summarizing his eloquent discourse) that when we make food choices based on what truly tastes best and is most flavorful …. we end up choosing the things that are most nutritious AND making the most ethical choices, too.
We cannot be ethical until we are, first, mindful.
Lord, open our eyes that we may see. Amen.