“One Should Eat to Live…” Moliere

Moliere‘s quote (from “The Miser”): “One should eat to live, not live to eat” is often paraphrased and used to motivate dieters or over-consumers. I’m going to take it in another direction today.

We need to eat to live. Truly live. Eating involves not only nutrition and sustenance, but also community and beauty. To truly live life, we must eat. And we should eat well. That doesn’t mean decadence.

This weekend Michael Pollan spoke about sustainable food at the Pop!Tech conference in Camden, Maine. The video of his talk is currently unavailable online but you can read the live-blogging summary of the Velveteen Rabbi. Best soundbite of that talk: “A vegan in a Hummer has a smaller carbon footprint than a meat-eater in a Prius.”

He concluded his talk by naming three action items (quoted here from the Velveteen Rabbi’s post):

  1. Plant a garden. “If you invest seventy dollars in a home garden you can yield $600 worth of produce in a year.” Organic produce isn’t expensive if you grow it yourself. Our non-productive land could be feeding us and giving us exercise without using fossil fuels at all!
  2. Get back in the kitchen and cook. “Corporations…don’t cook very well,” he says — they use too much salt, sugar, and fat. The only way to get control of our diet and our food system back is by cooking again and involving our families in that.
  3. Eat meals! Eat food at tables with other people! “This doesn’t sound radical, but it has become that.” Twenty percent of our food is eaten in the car, in front of a screen, on the run. “Food isn’t just fuel; it’s about communion,” he says. “Bring back the meal as the sacred communal activity it is.”


I can tend to be a little too utilitarian at times. I’ll choose function over form (especially if it costs less). That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But I have come to realize that there is a place to invest in beauty. Gardens are, of course, functional (and so much more, but that is for another post). However, taking the harvest and truly drawing out the richness of the colors, textures, flavors, and aromas is an art. The preparation and presentation of the meal is not just a task, but a sacred vocation. Sacred, because it transforms the ingredients from mere food into delectable and artistic instruments for a communal rite: sharing a meal.

Join in the Feast blog

Some people are just gifted with a flare for cooking. I have a friend who recently started a food/recipe blog: Join in the Feast. She is going by the moniker, The Chef Chef, Interrupted. This is not just another recipe blog. She embodies for me an approach to food, cooking, and eating that is a marriage between responsible food choices and a theology of being truly human. The way she cooks and entertains dovetails perfectly with what I know of her life and her participation in ecclesia. Check her blog (which just started, but which I know will begin to be filled with succulent suggestions) for inspiration and instruction.

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