Monday, January 28, 2013

Divinely inspired food

"Take also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils and millet, and spelt and put them in one vessel…" Ezekiel 4:9®
This is a direct quote from the Food for Life website, ® symbol and all. Yes, that verse of the Bible is now a registered trademark. So where did this come from, and why do I bring it up here?

Well, when I started paying more attention to the natural food aisle at the local grocery store, I noticed a cereal and a few other products called Ezekiel 4:9, which got their ingredient list from a verse in the Bible. Something bothered me about this. There's nothing inherently wrong with getting food ideas from the Bible, and it must be a natural food, probably fairly healthy, but a few things bothered me about this:

  • It shows "magical thinking," implying that a key to good health is hidden in an obscure passage in the Bible, that a recipe from God must be healthier than anything else. They even refer to the Bible as the "Holy Scriptures" on the package. Again, nothing wrong with calling the Bible this. But it contributes to the impression that there's something "magic" about their food.
  • It seems to be taking advantage of their customers' Christian or Jewish faith in order to make money, especially customers who believe this magical thinking.
But recently we bought one of their products. While eating it, we were wondering what that whole passage in the book of Ezekiel was actually about. Here it is from the New International Version, with verse 9 is in bold. I laughed as I got toward the ending:
“Now, son of man, take a block of clay, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it and put battering rams around it. Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the people of Israel.
“Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the people of Israel upon yourself. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side. I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the people of Israel.
“After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the people of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year. Turn your face toward the siege of Jerusalem and with bared arm prophesy against her. I will tie you up with ropes so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have finished the days of your siege.
“Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the 390 days you lie on your side. Weigh out twenty shekels of food to eat each day and eat it at set times. Also measure out a sixth of a hin of water and drink it at set times. Eat the food as you would a loaf of barley bread; bake it in the sight of the people, using human excrement for fuel.” The Lord said, “In this way the people of Israel will eat defiled food among the nations where I will drive them.”
Then I said, “Not so, Sovereign Lord! I have never defiled myself. From my youth until now I have never eaten anything found dead or torn by wild animals. No impure meat has ever entered my mouth.”
“Very well,” he said, “I will let you bake your bread over cow dung instead of human excrement.”
He then said to me: “Son of man, I am about to cut off the food supply in Jerusalem. The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair, for food and water will be scarce. They will be appalled at the sight of each other and will waste away because of their sin.
So God gave this recipe to Ezekiel as part of an act symbolizing a siege, hardly an event known for healthy, tasty food. And then there's the fuel source. So if Food for Life really wants to be biblically correct, they should bake their products with that wonderful renewable fuel--cow dung.

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