Friday, April 29, 2011
Isn't It Obsessive to Think About Food All the Time?
My kids and I were reading about native African tribes for school one day. Like many other traditional cultures, the Maasai people of Africa are nomads. They move around constantly in order to provide fresh new food for their cattle, who one day become their food. Their children never have stable homes and they are completely dependent on the weather and their ability to find fresh food.
This ancient way of life has worked for them for thousands of years. That is, however, until recently. "Since the colonial period, most of what used to be Maasai land has been taken over, for private farms and ranches, for government projects or for wildlife parks. Mostly they retain only the dryest and least fertile areas. The stress this causes to their herds has often been aggravated by attempts made by governments to 'develop' the Maasai. These are based on the idea that they keep too much cattle for the land. However, they are in fact very efficient livestock producers and rarely have more animals than they need or the land can carry."
"These 'development' efforts try to change their system of shared access to land. While this has suited outsiders and some entrepreneurial Maasai who have been able to acquire land for themselves or sell it off, it has often denuded the soil and brought poverty to the majority of Maasai, who are left with too little and only the worst land."
The Tuareg tribe of Africa is another group of people we learned about. They distinguish themselves in many very interesting ways, including the way they dye their clothing with indigo dyes which is why they are often called the Blue people. Their daily lives revolve around maintaining a food supply as their livestock graze fresh fields and other daily chores:
"Women process milk, make butter, prepare animal skins, make clothes and bedding from skin, collect firewood and water. Men drive the animals take responsibility for selling. Men will take camels to towns to sell them, returning with millet which they use as flour for bread making."
Unfortunately, the government and worldwide bureaucracy is threatening their way of life just as it is for the Maasai and many other tribes. As one site says, "In recent times the Tuareg have been abandoning their nomadic way of life and take up sedentary lifestyles. Drought and government policy are threatening their traditional way of life but Tuaregs and their camel-caravans still appear unexpectedly on the horizon before melting into the desert again."
Our kids also love to read the Little House on the Prairie books for school. We have a great unit study curriculum that helps us use these books to learn things about geography, science, Bible lessons, character qualities, and more. (The Prairie Primer)
We've used these books to experience adventures such as making homemade butter, learning how maple syrup is harvested, and so many more fun things. I guess deep down, I would love to have lived in such simpler times.
So where am I going with all of this? Yes, some of you are seeing where I'm headed. Many media outlets have coined a term for people who are "obsessed with health food": Orthorexia. This term is likened to conditions such as anorexia where people become so obsessed with something having to do with food that they ironically put their own health in danger. (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Stossel/story?id=5735592&page=2) Many of you can imagine that I've been accused of having a mild form of this. Maybe some of you have even thought it! (BTW: That's okay--I don't mind having people care enough to remind me to stay balanced!)
However, I do wonder if the accusers ever took a history class? Did they ever learn about Pa Ingalls spending all fall smoking meat while Ma cultured cheese and hung onions to dry in the attic? Did they read about the long hours Pa spent hunting while Ma made butter and cooked stew over the fireplace all day long? How they spent days harvesting wheat and even more days threshing and grinding? I wonder if anyone ever accused them of being obsessive. . .
As we can see from the above examples of African tribes, profit and greed from their government has stripped them of their ancient practices. These tribes suffer not because of lack of rainfall or a livestock plague but because of other humankind. I personally do not see any difference in modern-day America. People who choose to fill up their schedules with extracurricular activities, shopping, and lying around watching television accuse those of us who work hard to seek traditional lifestyles of being obsessive. They say that because these money-hungry companies make it simple for us to get "food," that we are crazy not to buy into it. (Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but these companies do not have our best interests at heart.)
In the same way it costs the nomad tribes of Africa and many other cultures, Convenience is costing us more than our money.
But there is a fraction of truth in everything, right?! If you read the article linked above about Orthorexia, you can see a couple of examples of people who took it WAY too far. Not only did they chart their food intake, but they actually let themselves physically deteriorate to the point of DEATH. They were driven by fear. Ironically, that fear actually led them to the same fate, just on a different route.
From the words of a wise Dreamworks character, "One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it." (Kung Fu Panda's Master Oogway).
It's true that our family hasn't had a single fast-food burger or french fry in over five years. And we don't plan on having one anytime soon. But we did have Papa John's pizza for dinner two weeks ago. After cooking three homemade meals a day from scratch, ordering out one night a month can be a blessing to this hard-working mom!
If you are seeking a healthy lifestyle for your family as a way to honor God and to be a good steward of the body He has given you, I commend you. I also encourage you to seek Him, above all else, before anything! When you do that first, and maintain your temple well, you will not be worn down by fatigue and depression. You will have energy to be a mighty warrior for the Kingdom of God here on earth while the time for our Savior's return draws near! And once in a while, order pizza and give yourself a break!