A couple more words before we get going. First, I’m not going to be doing any real hardcore scholarly research for these posts. I’ll be drawing on my own knowledge from seminary, my reading of the Bible and other sources and my experience. I’m not ready to prepare my dissertation on food in the Bible. I just want to read through the Bible and ask: What role and importance does food play? What does it mean? How does it translate into our modern food systems?
Second, we’re starting at the beginning. But the beginning is creation and it’s full of important things about food. So it might seem slow at first, but there will be some genealogies and whole chapters that we will probably skip over.
Genesis 1:11-13 Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a third day.
I don’t want to get into creation vs. evolution debates or really go too much into the background and textual issues in Genesis 1. I want to know what it tells us about food.
It tells us 1) that everything was created by God and that all of creation is described as good by God and 2) that we, human beings, are part of and dependent on this creation. It is interesting that humans are not created until the sixth day. Maybe it was just because they needed the place decorated first before they were introduced to their new home. I like to think that it tells us that the plants and animals we depend on were here long before us.
This particular passage only hints at the incredible diversity of creation. There are probably millions of species of plants that people eat around the world. In ecology diversity is a good thing. One of the scary things about food today is that biodiversity is decreasing. There used to be thousands of species of potatoes, but today you can only find four or five in the grocery store (It is the Year of the Potato, btw).
So far we know that we humans are part of creation and dependent on the world around us. We also know that the creation is essentially good. Finally, we can say that God likes diversity in plants as well as people.