web analytics
September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Why Food Matters


We all eat to live, but the vast majority of us truly live to eat. We think about what we will have for lunch while we are still eating breakfast. We conjure up scrumptious dinners before we’ve digested lunch. While we are enjoying our delicious dinners, our most compelling conversations are about other wonderful meals we’ve enjoyed or what we will be eating the following evening. We imagine outlandish desserts. We think of food between meals.

We even get up in the middle of the night to have a little snack. Our individual and communal lives are centered around breaking bread. It is not just that we are what we eat – we are the people we are because of what we eat. Family gatherings and even national holidays are defined by the meals we eat. In the Jewish tradition, we celebrate the central event in our history with a Seder meal. What would Shabbat and Yomim Tovim be like without regal and festive meals?

There is a saying that if you feed them, they will come. The truth of this is simple, and shared by people the world over – a successful meeting or gathering is guaranteed by providing food. The better the food, the better the meeting. Call people together without food and you needn’t expect them the second time you call.

Food is central to how we live, how we define ourselves and how we associate with our friends and neighbors.

And there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, the only flaw in this from Judaism’s perspective is that we don’t go far enough in our love of food. One would think our need for and fascination and obsession with food would prompt us to elevate our relationship with it. Just as the most intimate of human interactions can be reduced to a mere physical act, love of food for food’s sake reduces eating to nothing more than an activity that is shared with every other creature on earth.

One would think the centrality of food in our lives would awaken our consciousness to something more than its taste or our physical satisfaction after we eat. Too often, it does not.

As a result, food has become as much our enemy as our friend. That there is an obesity epidemic in our culture is so sadly obvious it demands no comment. But even worse than our inability to control our eating habits is the danger that seems to lurk in food itself. Produce carries salmonella, meat has e-coli, and there’s mad cow disease hiding in the brains of the cattle that become the hamburger meat we consume in such quantities.

Food – necessary, enjoyable, and beloved – can also be dangerous.

Nothing, however, speaks to our complex relationship with food more than the increase in the number of food sensitivities and allergies. Is there a school in America that is not a nut-free zone? How many parents fear the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, once a staple of young people’s lunch boxes?

It seems that everyone is – or knows someone who is – either lactose-intolerant or allergic to nuts, or dairy, or wheat, or gluten, or … the list goes on and on. The reason for the spike in food allergies is not clear but it has created a real challenge to the food preparation industry – the industry that delivers food to the vast majority of consumers.

Robert Powitz, Ph.D, MPH, points out in an article titled “Allergy Consciousness for the Retail Food Industry” that people who suffer from food allergies are generally successful in avoiding the foods that trigger their allergies. In fact, avoidance is the preferred strategy when dealing with food allergies.

Avoidance of problem foods is fine – so long as the food delivery system cooperates. But, as Dr. Powitz makes clear, problems with accurate food labeling and cross-contamination (when a product “free” of the particular allergen is prepared in factories or on machinery used to prepare other foods that may have contained the allergen ) sometimes makes avoidance tricky or even impossible.

How can we ensure that people with allergies know the foods they eat do not contain the allergens they need to avoid? In this context and in addressing the question, Dr. Powitz refers to an interesting model – kashrut. As Dr. Powitz writes, “…the model for ‘allergy consciousness’ enforcement has been around for at least six thousand years. It is commonly known as Kashrut: Jewish Dietary Laws. Contrary to popular misconception, rabbis or other religious officials do not bless food to make it kosher. Rather, they examine the foods and how they are processed to assure kosher consumers that the food … complies with dietary laws….”

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at e1948s@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Why Food Matters”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A Palestinian Arab winds up a slingshot before throwing a rock towards Israeli soldiers.
Israel Fights Back Against the Jerusalem Intifada
Latest Indepth Stories
Donny-Fuchs-medium

Originally scheduled to be held elsewhere, the hotel canceled, pressured by local missionary groups

syria_stratfo

It’s likely that some of the rebel factions, including US clients, have indeed made pacts with ISIS

Phyllis Chesler

Imam Tafsirli of the Harlem Islamic center: “You cannot be a Muslim without believing in Jesus”

Gas Pump

If simple fuel choice were implemented, the power of petroleum and those who sell it would cease.

Value of IS: It enables people to see the place to which all other Islamist fascism is headed.

“When Frank does something he does it well and you don’t have to worry about dotting the i’s or crossing the t’s.”

President Obama: “ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents”

he time of the Uman pilgrimage is upon us, and we dare not ignore the opportunity to highlight the danger.

Healing requires that the victim be validated for being harmed and the guilty assume responsibility.

During the war, not once was Hashem’s name mentioned to the nation by Israel’s PM or gov’t officials

How many illegal Arab structures are there in the city? Why are they not being destroyed?

We did not win the war in Gaza because we are still captive to the concept of the 2 state solution.

Trapped in a false notion of power, America will lose the battle in the same way Israel now loses.

It’s a cliché, but nonetheless true that 9/11 changed my life. There is evil in the world. Our grandparents were right.

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Eisenstock-082914

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

What defines kana’ut these days? Throwing rocks at passing cars on Shabbos? Burning an Israeli flag on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?

One who may leave his wife an agunah is not included in the general rule that we may not imprison on Shabbos.

“Fulfill my requests for good, grant my request, be mindful of us for deliverance and compassion…remember us for a good, long life…give us bread to eat, clothes to wear…”

Too often, as parents and teachers, we think it means talking at our children, delivering to them good and worthy content that they should simply hear and assimilate into their minds and hearts.

I was singing, dancing, jumping and, sweating. Just joy and happiness. One child on my shoulders after another. What happiness! And then, the little boy on my shoulders – he could not have been older than six – began to cry.

The only way for children to find a way back to the path is through parental love and understanding.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/why-food-matters/2008/08/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: