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.