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What Would Jesus Eat?

With Easter now over, and copious amounts of ham and potatoes consumed across the nation (including my wife's Aunt Carol's house), I can turn to a question I've been mulling over in my head: what would Jesus eat? jesusQuite a lot has been written on the subject (including the books What Would Jesus Eat?: The Ultimate Program for Eating Well, Feeling Great, and Living Longer and The What Would Jesus Eat Cookbook, both by Dr. Don Colbert). Quoting the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

Because Jesus was a Jew, Colbert says, he would have followed Old Testament dietary laws - for instance, laws governing clean and unclean animals and fish. These laws were specific: cattle, sheep and goats were allowed; hogs were not. Fish with fins and scales were allowed; catfish, crustaceans (crabs, lobsters, shrimp), mollusks (clams, mussels) and others were not. As Colbert says, Jesus would not have eaten an Easter ham.

Colbert also assesses Jesus' culture and decides what he would have eaten based on what was available. Fish was widely available; beef was saved for special occasions, such as the prodigal son's return. So, Colbert says, Jesus probably ate fish on a daily basis but beef not more than once a month. Other staples in Jesus' diet, according to Colbert's assessment of the culture, would have been bread and other whole grains, vegetables, fruits and olive oil.

It's intuitively correct, of course - we don't need Dr. Colbert to tell us that Jesus would have eaten what he could get. But it's worth noting, particularly at this time of rebirth and growth for both Jews and Christians, that our ancestors ate the food that was readily available, and avoided foods that were perceived as "dangerous," the ones that were most likely to cause salmonella and other unpleasant ailments. The word organic didn't likely exist at the time, but neither did the number and variety of chemicals that industrial farmers currently use in the fields. Local, sustainable, and organic food was pretty much all there was.

I'm reminded once again of Michael Pollan and of his current project, collecting the food rules of our ancestors. Pollan's goal is to collect traditional recipes, menus, and ways to prepare food to make us healthier and happier as a culture. Thinking about what Jesus - and Moses, for that matter - ate is not a bad way to get started.

Comments

and avoided foods that were perceived as “dangerous,”
I once read - years ago so I can't give a cite - that one reason for pigs as being classed as "unclean" had much to do with the fact that in the area, water was often very scarce. Pigs take a LOT of water to raise and can do a lot of damage to a fragile desert ecosystem. Raising swine could very well have been considered a dangerous thing to do, to the whole community.
Thanks for the comment, David! I've heard that as well, along with the fact that food preparation is incredibly important for pork. Super interesting stuff. Many of the rules we follow (or choose not too...) are based on the practicalities of the times. Somehow it still works. :-)
[...] What Would Jesus Eat Posted on April 13, 2009 by Zachary Cohen My good buddy Lee has the answer over at his RAD blog Simple, Good and Tasty, here [...]

What I have learned about pigs and certain types of seafood and fishes like lobster, crab, shrimp and catfish is that as the word of God says, these are "unclean" and was not created for human consumption because of the high toxicity level in these creatures. The seafood cleans the waste of other sea animals and should not be consumed by humans, it can make us sick and die premature deaths. Also, pigs retain toxicity in their organs and flesh and is dangerous for human consumption - no matter how good it tastes. Please don't think the word of God concerning what we should eat, is outdated. God knew and knows what is best for us. We are not designed to be bombarded by dangerous toxins within these animals so please avoid.

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