Born and raised Catholic, I was always fascinated with the Eucharist wafers that my family and I ate every Sunday at church. My adventure started one year at summer camp when I was ten, when a priest gave me a tupperware container full of the little round chips of unleavened bread and advised me to “snack on them if you get hungry”. I remember feeling uncomfortable since I was always told to treat the little wafers as the body of Christ. Roman Catholicism teaches “transubstantiation” meaning that the bread and wine served at Catholic Mass are transformed into the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ. Most other Christian identities believe that the bread and wine is a metaphorical representation of Jesus, like at my Grandma’s church where I got grape juice and crackers.
As I watched people lining up to receive the communion of flavorless wafers and sweet wine, I started to ask to myself, “How are these unleavened alter breads made? Where do they come from?” Just like so many other food writers and journalists have been doing tracking down the production of corn or the hamburger, I wanted to take a journey to learn about these wafers that Catholics eat all the time. With a little bit of Internet research, here is what I found out on my Eucharist Adventure:
Little girl, not old enough to receive yet, being bless in communion line. From: media.vcstar.com
I am not a nutrition major, but I am a foodist. A student studying the importance of food beyond our physical dependancy. In the last few years in college, I learned that food is the quintessential example of achieving a happier, healthier life.
In my host family’s home in Belo Horizonte, I noticed several foodways that I wanted to change, but I had to stop and think why do I wanted change these foodways. Demanding change without reason will prevent you from being able to educate and kill the motivation of others. I wanted to leave a picture with my host family that summarized some of the food rules that we tried to implement over my four months time living with them. I wanted to make something similar to the new MyPlate icon, but something more personalized just for them. So I thought, heck with the plate! I want a MESA, a Mesa de Bom Comer (a Table of Good Eats).
Basic Food Rules anyone can apply without studying nutritional sciences:
As part of my new year’s resolution of reading a book a week in 2011, I read a little book recently called, “Eating Mindfully” by Susan Albers. I enjoy the idea of eating food consciously without focusing on nutrition. If you think about it, the field of study is called “nutritional sciences” for a reason, it is meant for scientists to comprehend. Susan breaks down eating food into 4 categories: Mind, Body, Thoughts, and Feelings. Categories which she says were pulled from Buddhist teachings. I tried to think how these four elements apply to my relationship with food nowadays in my senior year of college.
Whole Foods – I want foods closer to their natural state in the environment. This isn’t an ad for raw cuisine, but more of a push to understand where food comes from. For example, I drink whole milk, because in my mind whole milk is closer to raw milk than say fat-free. Another example would be my preference for foods that have not been “fortified” (adding vitamins, minerals, etc that were not in the original food). Not a big fan of supplements either… Continue reading →
“Business underlies everything in our national life, including our spiritual life. Witness the fact that in the Lord’s Prayer the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach.”
Woodrow Wilson on Poverty in America – (Speech, 1912)
When I first read this food quote, I agreed full heartily since Maslow’s hierarchy of needs came to mind. I tend to agree with his pyramid stating shat one can not begin to worry about religious needs until his or her physiological needs are satisfied. But, then I stopped and remembered my experience with impoverish people both here in the States and abroad, many poor people seem to be very religious; it obviously assists the hunger. Also, many cultures practice fasting as a form of devotion in their religion. Could have that come from scarcity or abundance of food?
I see that food has tight connections with religion, but why would I make this my food studies focus? Anyone out there studying the topic of food in religious studies? What other things should we focus on when we talk about food and religion?