I have a passion for health, fitness, nutrition, etc. All the things you could stick in a bucket and call "wellness." Because of this passion, I've been committed for quite some time to providing healthy, mostly organic food for my family to eat. My conviction in doing so stems mostly from a desire to attempt to protect my girls from the possibility of disease because of harmful pesticides, hormones, etc. in our food supply. But equally important to me is the desire to support my local farming community, in particular those who uphold eco-friendly agricultural values and practices. No, I'm not an environmentalist...at least not in the typical sense of the word. I do, however, highly value this earth God has given us and believe we need to do our best to steward it well. I also believe our bodies are temples, in which the Holy Spirit lives and dwells and that it is our responsibility as Christians to steward these gifts well, too (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
The most strikingly obvious difference you'll notice when you purchase real food (you know, the kind that isn't neon because of dyes, the chicken breasts that are smaller because they're not pumped with hormones, the stuff that's not shelf-stable for centuries) is the oftentimes significantly greater dent it makes in your bank account. This is a price I've been willing to pay for quite some time, but...
I was beginning to feel like perhaps all this organic, naturalness was becoming a little bit of an idol in my life. And that feeling wasn't sitting well with me. But I didn't really know how to not let it be an idol, but at the same time follow some strong convictions I have about big agriculture and fake food.
Then this Matthew 25 way of living starts to become very real to me. And then I start to question whether I should even buy organic at all. And then I feel convicted. And then God reaches down and turns my heart upside down in my chest.
And now I know this is very clearly a first world problem.
I mean, to even talk about organic, non-GMO, high fructose corn syrup free, artificial dye free, paraben free, and on and on seems so very trivial, doesn't it, when you consider these statistics:
- Nearly 963 million people in the world are hungry
- Over 1.4 billion people in the developing world live below the poverty line ($1.25 per day)
- More than 6 million children die each year from malnutrition
- 53% of deaths of children under the age of 5 are related to under-nutrition
Suddenly the going rate of $5.00 for a 6oz container of organic blueberries seems slightly ridiculous when I think of all the people living at less than $1.25 per day.
So, what now? How do I reconcile my growing burden for the poor with my desire to provide the best nutrition for my family?
Again, I remind myself of Jesus' word in Matthew 25:
I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me--you did it to me. (Matthew 25:40, The Message)Tom Davis in his book Red Letters writes, "If our Christian faith doesn't manifest into something that helps the life of another human being, it doesn't mean squat to him." Is my "organic" shopping preventing me from giving as much as I could to another human being. I think so. And I would rather see more mouths fed across this world with food that's sprayed with preservatives and injected with hormones than I would like to see the faces of these children dying...all while I'm eating my organic blueberries.
Am I going to rush out to the grocery store and stockpile my cupboards with food that will last through the next millennium? No. But I will be giving some of the money I save from not being enslaved to the organic revolution to those who need food...plain, simple food.
There's even a deeper issue here, too. Fear. So I will be trusting God more because I know that I don't have one ounce of control over the ultimate health of my family. He is sovereign and He is worth trusting. Besides, "fear keeps us from acting on the compassion in our hearts" (Red Letters, Tom Davis). Maybe it's just me, but for some reason I feel that He may just choose to honor the sharing of abundance among many over the hoarding of the "natural" for a family of four.
I think it's clear that our God is pretty passionate about the poor and the needy and I want to be conformed to His image, so maybe I ought to pursue that same passion.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:48, NIV)