Monday, January 11, 2010

Whole & Well

This entry has been writing and rewriting itself for some time. The biggest obstacle I've been facing in getting it to settle down into submission is that it's composed of thoughts I've been thinking through, and growing with, for quite some time. One of the problems I find when writing is that there are so many things I want to say, to explain, that I find myself backtracking and wandering about as if in a glade. It's an open space, surrounded by woodland - each trail circles back into the glade, but not before I chase the thought through trees, over streams, and around some big rocks. It's hard enough for me to get them in order within my own head, but to try and convey that to others - ah the mysteries of intelligent and excellent writing. I have some friends who are very, very talented writers; I envy them often.

Here's the basic idea I've got going: life is not simple, nor is creation simple, yet people are constantly trying to make everything simple. The main problem is that our usual practice is to break things down again and again until we assume that because we have all the pieces (or so we think), we now have the answer. One very important idea gets pushed to the wayside - there is much more to, well, everything quite frankly, than the pieces that make it up.

Before I was an Anthropology major, I had entered college a dedicated Biology major, on the fast track even. I skipped over intro classes thanks to my high AP test scores in the subject, and jumped right into sophomore level classes. Until I hit Chemistry. This will forever be my downfall. Subjects which require logic, equations and numbers in general are not within my realm of comprehension. I will gladly boast that I have not taken one math course since junior year of high school (Pre-Calc), and I'm still a contributing member of society. So there Middle School Math Teacher! Ahem.

It was the same semester I realized Chemistry was my nemesis that I was also taking an elective course - Anth101, introduction to cultural anthropology. This, my friends, is what I like to call The Great Awakening. (Forget those 18th Century Protestants, they didn't know what they were talking about) Here was a subject that ignited passion in my heart and also made a tremendous amount of sense in my pea brain. It took some time before I made the big connection - the reason I love(d) studying Anthropology was that it was so incredibly holistic. 

When I announced my grand plan to switch majors, and ever after, people often gave me a quizzical look, followed by the dreaded question: "What can you do with that?" I can proudly declare, "Anything I want!" You see, Anthropology covers the realms of every other science and humanity and art and whatever else you can think of that might be included within the human experience.

God did not create the earth in such a way that each element, plant, animal or mineral works on its own without interaction from any other living, or non-living, entity. In fact, it seems very clear to me, not only from my senses, but also from reading The Word, that He has made everything to work and live in relationship to the rest of creation. And I'm not talking some hippy-dippy, pantheistic nature worship here, just to be clear.

With the Fall, it was not just Man that has had to pay the consequences. Indeed, the whole earth groans with the tragedy of being no longer in right relationship with God and itself. Man has turned against man, man against nature, nature against itself; and always we are searching for ways to make it right. To somehow piece back together what was broken. Which, of course, is impossible without the intervention of God.

So what does this have to do with anything I've written about previously? I warned you, didn't I? I'm a trail follower. It's probably why I do such much better at talking than writing.

Humanity has gotten severely out of touch with food, particularly in The West. Our pride has deluded us into thinking we can understand the way everything works, and can then break it down, figuring out exactly what nutrients are best and what "bad" foods we ought to avoid. How can we even begin to rely on science to deliver us from problems that scientists don't understand? It should be glaringly obvious to us all that every attempt humans make at putting things aright often end in bigger disaster than the problem we started out with in the first place. 

Now, I assure you that I'm not some kind of crunchy, tree-hugging, organic, locally-grown fanatic here to shove some dogma down your throat with that $20 granola. BUT as I began to think about the food I place in my mouth, it began to occur to me that most of it was pretty much garbage. Processed junk food. And I'm not talking about potato chips here. I mean nearly all of it. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc (the "Western Diseases", known as such because they usually follow the introduction of the "Western Diet") - all of it has risen over the very time that many of our foods are claiming to make us more nutritious. But how can human created foods really be more nutritious than the ones God has given to us? Humans tinker about as if we know everything about everything, and we trust scientists to declare what foods we ought to be eating.

God has created a wonderful and complex human being in each of us. And I find that one of the reasons I have so failed previously is because even if I eat what some box tells me is "nutritious," well, I'm still eating the same stuff that is in every other box on the shelf. Too much of all the processed foods and not enough of the whole foods that are available out there. God knew what he was doing when he created broccoli, carrots, eggs, apples, cows, chickens and the rest of it. Why should I take what a human has created in substitution for what He offers me?

I know this may sound like crazy ranting and raving of a liberal crunch, but I assure you, it's not some new fangled idea I've picked up recently. Nor is it my own unique idea. In fact, look back throughout human history. We may not have many of the communicable diseases we once did, but we have an inordinate problem with dietary related diseases. The one I suffer from happens to be weight related. And do you know how many of those dietary related diseases can be reversed in a person simply by changing diet? It's incredible!

So, as I go on this journey of running and exercising, I'm also watching what I put in my mouth. It's always brought me joy to cook, and so as I strive to make better decisions, I will start making more things from scratch (if I find something good, I'll be sure to share it here). Most everything tastes better that way in any case (with the exception of Mac & Cheese. Oh how I love store brand, bright orange mac & cheese). And hopefully, I pray earnestly, that this will be the year I finally have a garden (it has been in my heart and on the back burner for far, far too long). My Burpee catalog came the other day and I nearly squealed with delight. And the sites I look to for other plant/gardening related stuff are really starting to advertise in earnest. Ohhh I'm excited for sowing and harvesting!

I realize this post may seem a bit out there, and very much discombobulated, but I did the best I could without actually writing a book on my thoughts. Anyone ever watch Alton Brown? You know that lady he has on sometimes - the Nutritional Anthropologist? That's my new dream job. I would love to study the relationship humans and their food have shared throughout history. But working with food for a living might not be a good idea, eh? ;)

There is a whole host of information out there about what you should or should not be eating, and it seems to change every time you turn around. There have been a few books I love to read that touch on these subjects, including Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and several books by Michael Pollan. Just in case you're interested


  1. That all sounds great, Bekea! I think you're on to a lot. God's best blessings on your newest endeavors. (Just one little thing: what's wrong with being a 'liberal crunch'? :>))

  2. More about the connotation of the phrase, haha. Most people associate "liberal" with non-Christian, and even hostile. So for those readers, I wanted to clarify. ;) I could probably spend a whole post on THAT point, though, haha. Maybe I will sometime!

  3. That job sounds perfect! I am trying to think of a short comment about what you've just said, but honestly nothing comes to words because there are too many thoughts going through my head. 1. You are a very talented writer. Don't let your head tell you otherwise. 2. This new field sounds amazing. 3. I love making things from scratch and have thought about doing a blog on what I make, because I think people are so intimidated by cooking when it really isn't rocket science, and I believe in the importance of eating at home with your family around a table and not in a restaurant. I've gotten the blog set up and the title, but you've given me a new inspiration to write! 4. I miss hanging out with you. 5. Enjoy your journey!