Thinking about food

No great thoughts today. Just a continuous stream of the same (and literally visceral) thought today: food. What I can have, when I can have it. I've begun to count calories again today.

I've been picking up weight lately. My clothes are tight, my digestion is a wreck and I feel underpowered. I know from experience that if I lose 20 pounds I'll feel better. I also know from experience that only one way works: to set a calorie budget and stick to it by measuring, counting and recording. I'm ordinarily eat a pretty wholesome, balanced diet. The budget keeps excesses at bay, and puts vegetables first. I love the results; I even love the food. (After a while, I forget about crackers and corn chips: two of my sabotage foods.)

So why do I stop? Because it takes a lot of work to maintain. And I think about food endlessly, especially when I'm resuming and there are tempting foods in the house (and not enough ready-to-eat low energy food.)

The difference now is that I'm prepared to think more about food as a part of the human condition. The fashionable set talk about their preferred foods. (Local! Organic! Thai!) The hungry have to plan carefully to get enough food. The imperiled -- I'm thinking of the Japanese right now -- upright their lives by securing food.

We celebrate with food. We mourn with food. We worship with food. Jesus taught with food, and my relatives comforted with food.

And so we think -- I pray -- so we do. But it's going to be a heluva struggle.

Making do with Mennonites

I haven't been blogging since Hubby and I took a vacation this week to Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Ah! the food! Chow-chow, kraut, apple dumplings . . . and more meat than I've eaten in the last six months.

But people are drawn there also for watching the plain people -- a distasteful act, I think, because it exoticizes and somewhat de-humanizes them -- and for the outlet mall shopping -- also, distasteful because it feeds consumerism (as opposed to necessary consumption) and depends on the offshore labor of others, who are also somewhat de-humanized and outright forgotten.

Hubby, however, really did need some new clothes and even after shopping needs clothes to get through the winter. I'm so proud of him: he considered the country of origin of what he selected, rejecting some good buys from countries where the human and labor rights and environmental protections are especially poor. He didn't overshop and he'll get plenty of wear from what he brought home.

Since my wardrobe is about where I want it, that left me waiting while he combed the racks. Fortunately, we had already visited the Mennonite Information Center, where I picked up Doris Janzen Longacre's 1980 Living More with Less. (find a copy to borrow; Herald Press, the publisher, has a broken Web site). It was her last book, posthumous really: she died at age 39 of cancer. But her legacy includes this, and her more famous More-with-Less Cookbook, (find a copy to borrow) which revolutionized simple, cost-effective cooking in solidarity with the world's hungry people.

Living More with Less, despite its age, makes a better case for simple living with better practical suggestions than any other book I've seen. For instance, she makes a case of wearing out an inefficient car or appliance because of its embedded energy and environmental cost to scrap; if you want to use less energy, find a way to use it less. (I wouldn't use ammonia like she does, though.)

Also, she makes her case from a Christian point of view, but without the seminary-ese that often plague such defenses. (I don't recall seeing the words stewardship or metanoia at all.) True to her Anabaptist roots, she sees in the church fellowship the potential for mutual examination and support for a well-lived, materially leaner life.

In this spirit, once I've read and digested the book, and have loaned it locally, I will be happy to lend it to persons within the domestic reach of the United States Postal Service.

If you have some money, give

To make the most impact, I give to only a few charitable organizations, and one is the Friends of the World Food Program. The World Food Program has a good history of food relief, with an excellent record of efficiency and the capacity to make a real difference. The Friends is the US support affiliate.

With the cost of staple crops pushing essential yet modest foodstuffs out of reach for so many people -- this BBC news story gives some background -- food relief giving is going to be a major need this year and (I'm worried) years to come.

Revisiting my shaving posts

I've stumbled into a sidebar conversation with Ms. Theologian about shaving tools.

For more than a year, I've cleared away the unbearded parts of my face with my grandfather's "missile silo" double-edge razor, Wilkinson blades, a shaving brush I've had for eons and Kiss My Face Moisture Shave. I'm sure I spend less than $20 a year to shave and enjoy the experience royally.

Look back to these three posts -- inspired by PeaceBang's then-new Beauty Tips for Ministers blog -- I wrote when I was converting over to Papa Daddy's razor: entries 1, 2 and 3.

Good Friday fasting and pluralism

As I mentioned yesterday, I was going to scale back my eating on xerophagic lines: bread, water, fruit and simply prepared vegetables.

So far so good. My staple has been raisin bagels -- which remind me in composition of the hot cross bun, too -- with a little almond butter. (Fat and protein to keep from spiking out on carbohydrate.) So I went to the bakery, a chain Hubby and I call "Awbuhpuh" and got some. I was thus thinking, in line:

  • This baked good is associated with Jews, but since this is Passover and they're leaven, observant Jews won't be having them. (Some people would have a problem with a raisin bagel, Passover or not.)
  • Their circular shape suggests eternity, a suitably religious concept.
  • Oh, and the guy who sold them. His name was Muhammad.

"Where cross the crowded ways of life" indeed!

Last minute Good Friday fasting

I don't fast hardcore, even on Good Friday. Too many times I've tried with good intentions only to feel my blood glucose fall, my ire rise and the bakery sing its Siren song.

I wake, hours later, covered in powdered sugar and shame. Enough of that.

Better to remember that there are forms and variations of fasting, some of which might be described as restraint or adopting a specialized diet. Consider the hot cross bun, traditionally baked and served as a Good Friday fast food. But it looks like a little panettone to me, and a frosted one at that. But it lacks meat and that's restraint for some.

I look a little farther east for my guidelines, to xerophagy: a diet of bread, water, nuts, fruit (especially dried) and simply prepared vegetables. While associated with Eastern Orthodox monasticism, with its genesis in the desert, there is something about it that reminds me of hiking and far journeying. I suppose because I can imagine a xerophagic diet be easy to carry in a backpack. Take that for what it's worth. Gorp, crackers and water would work. I wouldn't say no to an apple or an undressed salad. Indeed, I might look for these to go with my almond butter sandwich and raisins.

But just enough to get through the day.

Fast food

Well, I'm a bit hacked at a certain church near the Day Job. Their website promised an ecumenical Good Friday service at noon, but neglected to add thatit wasn't at their church. Hmph!

I don't fast on Good Friday in the usual sense, but will abstain from meat and cooked food, but since I am prone to having a bowl of raisin bran for dinner, that's not much of a concession.

After the failed service attempt, I decided to go to a chi-chi bakery and get hot cross buns. That's traditional for Good Friday, and so I'm satisfied if not shriven.

Hot cross buns