One of my roles as a rabbi is to declare foods kosher or not. That means I get to say that certain foods are healthy or fit for eating and others, not.
I usually do not let this power go to my head. In fact, outside of my role of being a parent to two children, I can’t recall the last time I actually did tell someone that they should or shouldn’t eat a certain item.
I’m about to instruct you on the “Religion-Outside-The-Box” dietary suggestions. (Of course, you are free to do as you please.)
What if I tell you that God does not need you to say a blessing — in other words, there is no need for a bracha — when you eat an apple that you pick from a tree. There is no need for a blessing when you eat something that is natural. God doesn’t need a blessing for organic-y foods. God knows that God made that tomato.
On the other hand, when you are dealing with something less natural – like Twizzlers or Red Vines – a blessing is warranted.
I believe you should say a larger blessing the further your food is from nature. A plastic bag containing trail mix – a little inorganic packaging around a healthy food, small blessing. A bowl filled with Oreos, covered with milk, and eaten with a spoon, time to say a blessing. (FYI, I treat myself to cookie cereal about 5 times a year.) A locally crafted beer served in glass, blessing optional.
Here’s something that sounds rabbinic: when you eat food that is not wholesome or good, you are distancing yourself from God.
Think of the unwholesome food you consume and know you aren’t doing your body any favors for eating it. Maybe that’s when you should say a blessing, when you are eating something that you know isn’t exactly right.
I like to think of it as equaling out the balance. Every time you are tempted to eat something unhealthy, think this beforehand: , saying ‘Hey God, I’m about to eat this food _________________ (fill in the blank with whatever heavily processed food you plan to consume), and I know it’s really not good for this holy vessel (my body), – but I love You and we need to make a little exception from eating healthy for the sake of my sanity and comfort.”
What if we did it that way?
(It would certainly not be much of a transition for vegans, who are already eating healthy foods.)
So, if I were going to tell you to eat bacon – I would tell you this: If you are going to eat bacon, make certain it is uncured.
This week’s spiritual advice:
When you eat a food that is close to the way nature started it, they way you are intended to eat food, no blessings. But when you eat something that is far afield from natural and you are toxifying your body, say a little blessing would you?