Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Home Cooking Cited as Cause of Diabetes

Many of you may know that I do food demonstrations for the Fairfax food bank as part of my internship. One of the main reasons that I do this is that I think it changes the atmosphere of the food bank. For some people, the need to ask for help at a food bank brings with it a sense of shame. American society teaches us that asking for help means that we're somehow not good enough. We're expected to be able to take care of ourselves. Sometimes, this idea is enough to keep people away who are in real need.

By having food demonstrations, going to the food bank becomes more like a trip to Trader Joe's or Costco. It adds an element of fun and people really look forward to seeing what's cooking each week. There are practical reasons as well. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what to do with the food that comes every week. I try to cook foods that people wouldn't necessarily think of making, like latkes or roasted cabbage with cream sauce. It's important that people actually use the food that they get or there's no point, and if people are able to create something delicious, I think it also helps with self esteem. People get a real sense of accomplishment when they are successful with a new recipe and that feeling can extend to other areas of their lives.

Sometimes, we get a ton of one thing, say cauliflower, and so I cook something using that ingredient to sort of push the item. People are more likely to take food items if they have an idea of what they can do with them.

The reason I'm telling you all of this is because I had a meeting today in which I was told that I should no longer use sugar in my cooking because of the high rate of diabetes in Fairfax. To give you perspective, the typical amount of sugar in one of my dishes would be something along the lines of 1 tablespoon of sugar to 2 heads of broccoli, 5 carrots and an onion. Ratios like this are not going to cause diabetes in anyone anytime soon. Sugar is an important part of cooking. It's important to have a balance of flavors in dishes in order to make them taste good. If people have the tools to make nutritious food that also tastes good, they will be less likely to eat fast food or processed foods, which are the actual cause of diabetes.

I don't understand this reactionary stance that people take when they think something is a problem. Are a few men drinking away their family's savings? Prohibition is the answer! Unemployment on the rise? Then legislation making illegal to help undocumented people what you need! Diabetes becoming a problem? Make nutritious home-cooked food not taste as good, increasing the allure of foods that are the actual problem.

Does this kind of thinking actually ever solve anything? Maybe we need to go back to electroshock therapy and lobotomies to help people with mental problems.

Why is it always the people with the loudest voices that have the power? Why are we so afraid of logic and reason? Perhaps I have become a victim of the fallout surrounding Paula Dean and her announcement that she has diabetes.

This world is just way too confusing sometimes. We focus so much on petty little things, like our disagreements over whether or not same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, or that 1 tablespoon of sugar in an entire pot of food that we forget that every 4 seconds, somewhere in the world, a child dies from poverty. There are wars, murder & rape happening all over the world every day, and the number of people that don't have clean water to drink is mind boggling. Did you know that we as a human race are on schedule to have a severe water shortage in about 50 years?

Wake up, people! There are real problems in the world, and the more we focus on little inconsequential issues, the less effective we are at following Jesus Christ's instructions to heal the sick and feed the hungry. I don't see God acting in these kinds of behaviors, and yet I am forced to deal with them because my voice is too small.

I've decided to start blogging again to be a small voice of reason amidst the cacophony of noise out there in the world, so expect to see one of these about every week or so. It may not make much of a difference, but I think I have a responsibility to try.

In the meantime, I'm going to the store to buy some stevia.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Art & Chapel

We had a great chapel service today that involved using our creativity to worship God. The congregation came together to create art as a way of worshipping, and we ended up with a couple of neat pieces that we'll be able to display at the school.

Here's what the chancel looked like before we started:

Our palate. The projected consisted of gluing scraps of cloth and written prayers to two canvases.

The works in progress.

The chancel after the service.

Finished art piece #1

Finished art piece #2

We did this as part of our weekly Worship Lab series, where we try to explore different ways of worshipping God in chapel on Thursdays. So far, we've had a drum circle...

a serviced based on the Iona community in Scotland, and a service where we sang songs written by one of the students. This Worship Lab idea has really forced us to stretch ourselves when it comes to doing weekly worship services, and It has been really fun! I look forward to seeing what else we will do in the coming semester!