Eat with Joy: Redeeming God's Gift of Food
For starters, EAT WITH JOY has such a fun book cover. The title is playfully written out with bits of food --- a “J” formed by a cooked shrimp, an “O” from a sliced kiwi. The imagination exhibited in the “typeface” drew me in, prompting me to anticipate similarly creative delights in the text.
We never see a particular catalyst that drew Rachel Stone to her interest in writing about food, though her introduction delves into a complicated relationship with food as it relates to her body image as an evangelical teen. “I was hungry and longed to eat…but I was afraid to eat…. I never heard the ‘make your body perfect’ message…refuted by some good theology.” So in EAT WITH JOY, she proposes that food is not an enemy, body image should not be a preoccupation, and eating with others “in ways that allow God’s creation and God’s creatures to flourish, can be profoundly countercultural and restorative.”
"At every opportunity, Stone nudges her readers toward a higher goal, not only in terms of physical health, but also in terms of Christian stewardship, communal fellowship and, well, heartfelt joy."
In several chapters, Stone addresses contemporary issues that are anything but joyful, notably slaughterhouse conditions (for workers as well as livestock), GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and attendant patented seeds, ill-advised governmental subsidies, and the dearth of fair-trade import opportunities. And then most of a chapter deals with disordered eating, focusing on anorexia. (Though obesity is mentioned now and again, I didn’t identify it as a central concern per se.) Stone writes to inform as well as inspire her readers.
And inspire she does. To eat well, when possible seasonably and from local sources. To try your hand at gardening, even if it’s growing herbs in a window box. To wean yourself from packaged foods and cook something from scratch. To eat communally as families, but also by drawing others to your table, as imperfect as your setup may be. “Going out to a restaurant and splitting the bill is easier than the old-fashioned ‘we’d like to have you over for dinner.’” But “we need to take turns being guest and host, like Jesus did. We need to go to awkward meals at other awkward people’s messy houses and have people over to our awkward, messy houses because that’s where grace comes to us.”
At every opportunity, Stone nudges her readers toward a higher goal, not only in terms of physical health, but also in terms of Christian stewardship, communal fellowship and, well, heartfelt joy. She always commends advancing at a comfortable pace, one step at a time, and that is part of her inspiring read. Oh, did I mention recipes that I’d like to try?
Reviewed by Evelyn Bence on February 19, 2014