Food for Thought

By Mark King

My dad was born in 1927 in the North Florida countryside. He was born into a farming family and they "lived off the land." They purchased some things from the store that they could not get on their own — salt, sugar, flour, coffee — but essentially they grew, raised, hunted, trapped or fished all of their food and store-supplemented what they couldn't get on their own.

As I was growing up, I spent a lot of time at my grandpa's place in the country. By that time, the situation had been reversed. We lived off the grocery store, but still supplemented our diet with foods from the land.

Grandpa had a variety of fruit trees on his place (a couple of acres.) He had a peach tree, a couple of plum trees, a fig tree (this was my favorite, nothing like fresh figs), persimmons (which I wanted absolutely nothing to do with), blueberries, blackberries, and grapes — scuppernongs and muscadines. But the most incredible fruit production was from the sand pear trees. These pears are very similar to Asian pears that you now see for very high prices in the grocery stores. They are crisp and tart, and never soften up. The trees bore so many pears that the branches would break if you didn't prop them up with boards or shake the tree to thin them out — watch your head! There were so many pears there was no way to possibly use them all. One year a hog farmer bought them to feed his hogs. He paid one dollar for a 5-gallon bucket full of pears, and I think he got 20 buckets. The bees would be attracted to all the rotting pears. It was incredible plague of pears.

My dad always planted a garden at grandpa's with the normal garden vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, squash, beans) as well as corn, watermelons, peanuts (eventually boiled), okra (again something I wanted nothing to do with), various greens, and sugar cane. The annual "cane grinding" was one of the highlights of the year. It was harvested in the fall, piled and covered with dirt and straw for the winter, and when the weather got warmer, we made cane syrup. The cane was also good to chew. If you have never seen the process of making syrup, you have missed out.

Grandpa kept a chicken yard with about 15 chickens, so we always had fresh brown eggs. White eggs were a novelty we bought around Easter since they were easier to decorate.

When we went fishing, no one had ever heard of "catch and release." What we caught made it to the table in a short amount of time. We fished using worms that were raised for that purpose in the "worm bed." We caught perch, pike, catfish and as a special treat, the occasional mudfish (which many people will not eat, but we thought it was great.)

We hunted duck, dove, deer, and believe it or not, squirrel (tastes like chicken). One year we saw signs of wild hogs so my dad built a trap (baited with pears of course) and caught a little bitty scrawny sow — about 100 pounds. We transferred her to Grandpa's where the pen was already constructed. A few days later, incredibly, she gave birth to 3 piglets. We grew those and then finally butchered all four.

In addition to the annual cane grinding and peanut boiling, there was the annual hog head cheese making. (The uninitiated may need to look that one up.) It was a lot of fun although I never really liked to eat it.

In later years, my dad raised hogs and cows out at Grandpa's for meat. He was allergic to something that was often added to beef, so the only way to be safe was to raise our own.

For me it was a novelty, but I got to see how food came to us. It could be a lot of work and at times it was pretty messy, but the result was healthy food. Beyond that, most of our food was "home cooked." When my mom baked a cake "from scratch" it was not out of a box. We had homemade bread, biscuits and cornbread.

So my dad grew up living off the land with supplemental food purchased from the store. I grew up with food purchased from the store, but a good supplement came from the land. My kids are growing up with food purchased from the store and an occasional supplement purchased from a farmer's market or maybe a special trip to the strawberry patch or my dad's citrus trees. And much of the food from the store is heavily processed. In fact, in my home the choice is usually between "making something" — that is, opening cans, jars, and boxes and mixing things together — or simply taking something out of the freezer that has already been mixed together by someone else and frozen in a convenient "ready to heat" tray. Maybe the next generation will grow up on fast food with occasional supplements of "homemade" frozen lasagna.

We are being told that our food is increasingly unhealthy and I don't doubt it. People have always found ways to put unhealthy things into their bodies, but the food was generally wholesome. Now, a whole generation is growing up on nothing but processed food. That subject might be worthy of a blog, but that is not what this blog is about.

All of this makes me think of the spiritual food that we take in every day. Our culture provides us with unhealthy options like never before. In fact, a whole generation has been raised on spiritual fast food, junk food, and food with lethal levels of spiritual toxins. Bad spiritual food has always been around, but now it seems that the toxins are even in the air we breathe. We are constantly bombarded with images and messages everywhere we go — from billboards, to newsstands, to public conversations. Not long ago, my 10-year-old son asked me what a couple of words meant. I asked him where he heard them and he said it was at the sporting goods store. As I was looking at shoes, he was looking at basketballs, and heard three teenagers talking. They didn't need to sneak off to some back corner to have a lurid conversation, they could do it in the middle of a store with people all around. Spiritual toxins are sprayed everywhere in public! Then, in the privacy of our own homes there is a toxic buffet available at our fingertips which would have been unimaginable even just a few years ago. If we want to be spiritually healthy, we have to be intentional about eating good spiritual food and avoiding that which is toxic and unhealthy. This is all the more difficult when everybody else is eating toxic food and many have grown up eating nothing else. Often the authorities that are so concerned about unhealthy physical food see nothing wrong with toxic spiritual food.

God's truth is our food and we need to eat it daily. Every Christian needs a good spiritual restaurant (a local church that serves a healthy meal every time) and a variety of spiritual grocery stores, markets, and recipes (good books, radio stations, and websites like If we are not intentional about eating healthy, we will become weak and flabby, and ineffective in accomplishing the work that God has for us.

Image Credit: skeeze; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | God-Father  | Health-Wellness  | Personal-Life  | Sin-Evil

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Published on 3-20-17