Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Church of Your Dreams. II

Did you know that America no longer cooks. We have become pros at heating and microwaving, but in many American homes very few families actually cook from scratch.
I was not aware of this trend in American homes until I began to look into food insecurity in my community. After a little reading I began to look at what is being sold in most grocery stores in America. It is pre-prepared,pre-cooked,pre-packaged. The food is ready to heat, ready to serve and ready quick. Fresh produce and meat sections are more compact, while the pre-processed areas are huge. I asked questions of people in the community who work with families with low food security. Here is a little of what I learned.

Single parents are raising an average of two children, sometimes three are more. The state and federal support funds should be able to feed a family of four on what is given to them by the system. The first of the month these parents go shopping for food. They go to the big box grocery stores with many choices. They will fill from 11/2 to 2 carts full of food. This food is planned to last an entire month. The carts have no fresh fruit or vegetables. No fresh meat or poultry. You will find the carts over flowing with frozen entrees, pre-packaged snacks, and lots of soda and juice products. The food value content is made up mostly of sodium, sugar, white flour, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil, fillers and a chemical lab. The food "may" taste good, but it has no holding ability, it does not stick to the ribs of a small child's belly.

The family eats well for about 2-21/2 weeks, then the pre-packaged and VERY expensive food begins to run out. The single parent is then faced with hungry bellies and very little cash. That is when they will begin to rely on the $.99 menu at the fast food eateries. Huge amounts of french fries will be purchased and consumed. They are "good" and filling and a family can eat for around $5.oo. Start the month over and push repeat.

In talking to social workers, they have communicated a common theme with these single parents...NONE OF THEM KNOW HOW TO COOK. As a child, these young parents remember a grandmother or great aunt that cooked. Their mother may have cooked some, but did not teach them any kitchen skills.

It is a trend in American culture that has very little to do with education, employment or income level. I spoke with a friend yesterday, he has a Phd and his wife completed a Masters Degree. Their 15 yr old daughter cannot boil water, the three sons CAN cook, over a fire in a scout encampment, but probably could not transfer that skill to a kitchen to feed a family.

We have a food crisis in our country. The food producers know this. They are not bad people, they are responsible to stock holders to make money. These food companies are making money on an American culture that does not cook. They have switched from fresh, wholesome products to what America wants and needs at this time. Quick, tasty, easy! The American dream.

The church of my dreams would invest in a state of the art commercial kitchen. Not set up only to prepare large amounts of food, but set up to teach. To teach young and old, single and married, churched and non-believing, red, yellow, black and white the art and joy of cooking.

Good food, simple recipes, local products, lots of laughter and learning and relationship. We would talk about the power of food and the sacred meal and how scripture respects both deeply. We would always share the food prepared together with all who were hungry. Guest cooks and chefs would come and teach

Well cooked fresh food and family go together like bread and wine for communion.
You cannot separate the power of a family meal from the power of communion. To do so is just bad theology, a misunderstanding of the bible and the character and nature of the Father. The church of my dreams would restore the sacrament of food and cooking to the spiritual community, a commercial teaching kitchen would just be a beginning.


  1. Anonymous10:06 AM

    ..OHHH>>>> let me teach!!! What a fabulous dream Jimmy.... I agree about cooking from scratch... a lost art for sure

  2. Anonymous10:22 AM

    uh... that was me... for some reason blogger will only allow me to post as anonymous!

  3. Lea,

    You can teach in the kitchen any time you want.

  4. Anonymous11:13 AM

    You can start now, how about in your own kitchen? :)
    From a different anonymous.

  5. Anonymous #2,
    Our kitchen is that kitchen (minus the bells and whistles and fancy stuff) almost every night and each and every day throughout this past summer. Might want to read the rest of the blog for some history!
    Kitchen Manager

  6. Anonymous3:26 PM

    Oh, I know what you have done over the summer, and it was a great undertaking, and accomplished only with the grace of God to provide. And I know you have people that stay with you because they have no other place to stay. You are truly being Jesus to these people, and it is evident to someone that only knows about you through your blogs. If it is a dream to teach people basic cooking skills, I am sure it will come to pass. I agree that people lose something when they don't spend the time at the table, or time in preparing a meal together. May God continue to bless you as you bless others! :)
    Anonymous #2