Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Katherine Dalton at Front Porch Republic writes a mild rejoinder to foodies, explaining why she is not one, despite enjoying the occasional artisanal product or upscale dinner:

We are using real plates and cloth napkins (in my house, the monogrammed paper napkins I am given every Christmas are reserved for company). We are thankful for what we are about to receive, such as it is.

I have no illusions that anyone older than my children would consider this a good meal. But some days it is good enough.

In any case, those who know me for real and not just virtually know that my tombstone is bound to quote Chesterton’s charitable motto that “anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

He also said that if there is one thing the road to hell is NOT paved with, it is good intentions. He said he was sure.

And so another meal is served. Now, dear reader, I have other things to do.

For Christians who view their relationship to the earth (and the food production system) as necessarily encompassing moral questions, this seems like a sensible approach. Know-nothingism towards what we consume is problematic, but so is the kind of fetishization of cuisine which seems to have taken ahold of American culture in recent years (even replacing, as some have argued , sex as the primary source of bourgeois morality). As Dalton notes, that exaltation of eating is not identical to a thoughtful Christian response to the ethics of eating—it’s actually a kind of perversion of it—but it has become commonplace.

Case in point: Two weeks ago in New York, a huge outdoor festival (billed as “an amusement park of food and drink”) embodied just that attitude: the two-day-long event even culminated in a celebrity chef butchering of a pig before hundreds of viewers on an elevated platform called the “Hamageddon stage.” Obsession like that, however much it springs from a desire to bring greater integrity to the way we eat, makes for a comic (if unintentional) reminder that other sacrificial rituals are of much more enduring value.

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles