A few weeks ago while I was chatting with someone who I had recently met, he asked what I like to do (for fun). This is a standard question, and I thought for a few seconds about how I would reply – I thought to myself: “I could say golf, because I do enjoy it, but I don’t go nearly enough to justify that as a real answer. I could say camping, but I won’t because we really don’t do that often enough either”. I thought of a few more things that I could have justified or said to sound a bit more well-rounded, but then I decided on a simple and honest truth. I replied; “I love to eat”. 1
I think we can all relate to this right? But before we say yes, let’s understand that my saying “I love to eat” is much different than if I had said; “I love food”. Much different.
To understand this difference, we first need to understand that “food” is defined as “any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc.”. 2 Just in case we might misunderstand what food is, the keywords of that sentence are “nourishing”, “sustain life”, “provide energy” and “promote growth”. If we eat, drink, or otherwise take into the body something that is not nourishing, or does not sustain life, does not provide energy, or does not promote growth, etc. it is not considered “food”. It is fake food. Fabricated food. False food. Phony food. Counterfeit food. Not even close to real, nourishing food. It is Pharisee food. So-called ‘food’ that claims to be super nutritious, jam-packed with essential vitamins and minerals and all sorts of healthy ingredients, yet inwardly full of sugar, harmful, and energy sucking garbage that will make me turn into a pile of goo. ‘Food’ that screams to the consumers via marketing campaigns, commercials, or celebrity endorsements. ‘Food’ that will cleverly and boldly list all of the wholesome and organic ingredients, with no thought to their changed or modified state which eliminate any nutritional value (if there was ever any in the first place). ‘Food’ that is packaged to be seen of men, or to be tasted for their much artificial flavorings.
Thus my statement above makes sense now, because I love to eat all the things that are not ‘real’ food. Things like M&Ms, ice cream, chips, skittles, cookies, and more ice cream.3 These items are the pretend food that sing sweetly to you while you roam the grocery store. The pretend food that is placed in all the right places to lure you into their trap. The pretend food that is so beautifully packaged, and the pretend food that is less expensive than real food. And maybe worst of all – this fake food is also delicious – well, at least it seems to be delicious while you are eating it. It’s so good, so clever, and so deceptive, (and we are so eager to believe it) that we may actually think we are eating real food. Somehow we think that this substance, or combination of substances will somehow nourish us, sustain life, provide energy, and promote growth.4 And yes, I tend to avoid food in an effort to eat.
The problem with this fake food is that it turns on you. It betrays you very soon after you’ve eaten it. Sometime between when it was softly singing you a lullaby in the grocery store and the 13 seconds following ingestion, it becomes poison and we can’t figure out how this seemingly delicious treat is causing our body to scream out in pain. Instead of sustaining life, it feels like it’s taking your life. Instead of providing energy, it provides illness. It makes us feel so wrong, yet for some reason – after we feel so horrible – we think that the only thing that can make it better, is something worse. So, we add to our woes by eating even more. We avoid all the real food that will make the pain stop. We are forced into the fetal position, and vow to never eat another particle of ‘food’ ever again. Then, after a few hours of laying on the couch in a Pharisee food coma, we somehow forget the pain of the last few hours and we’re ready for shake from Dairy Queen and some M&Ms. What, that’s just me?
So, we invite others to partake in our misery, because after all, misery loves company. Some (reasonably) will respond in the negative to our clever invitation, but we don’t give up. We say things like “it’s not fun to eat a shake by myself”, or “eating healthy is boring”, “real food tastes gross”, or worse, we have “the attitude of mocking and pointing our fingers at those who had come and were partaking of the fruit”. 5
Hopefully we can all see the connection here, because in the world today there are plenty of things out there that pretend to be food, but in reality are only Pharisee food. Fake food that will claim to be fantastic, healthy, life changing, delicious, and full of life sustaining ingredients, but in reality are nothing but garbage that do us harm. Food that (regardless of their Pharisee promises) will not provide us with nourishment, energy, growth, or sustenance.
Yet, there is something out there that will provide us with all of those things. The true bread of life. The gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s learn to love food instead of just eating, and then let’s ask ourselves, “where is the next food“?
1 – I added a few other things to the list after the fact, mostly to sound a little more normal. After all, who answers that question with just ‘I love to eat’? I also told him that I love to read and also ride my bike. I am pretty sure he was really impressed with my sophistication and uniqueness. He never could have imagined meeting someone so diverse and expansive in his or her worldly interests. As a side note – I do love eating while I read and eating while I bike (obviously). Reading while I bike is too hard.
3 Lest anyone think I discriminate; I include frozen custard, frozen yogurt, and all of their relatives in this general category. I love them all.
4 Let’s be clear. Eating this type of food will help us grow all right. It will just help us ‘grow’ in all the wrong ways. It will help us grow away from health. It will help us grow fat. It will help us grow tired. It will help us grow weary. The same could be said for sustaining life. It will sustain us only in the sense that it will not immediately kill us. It will lull us away carefully into unhealthy and and horrible habits, while promising that it’s packed with vitamins and minerals and whole grains.
5 1 Ne. 8:27