Food: the Last Sacrament

The word "foodie" has now entered common usage in contemporary English. The word denotes a class of folks who deliberately hone an appreciation of not only the eating, but the production and preparation of one or many types of food. The proliferation of shows on food has even led to the creation of dedicated food channels on cable television, and dedicated food sections in magazines, journals and papers. It has also nurtured its own "slow food" movement.

At the heart of this growing appreciation of food is a post-consumer mindset, that sees food as something more than something to be merely eaten. At the same time, there is also a post-utilitarian apprehension of food that sees food as something more than a vehicle for nutrients for our bodies. Books like Norman Wirzba's Food and Faith have hinted that food is as much a cultural issue as it is a scientific or economic issue. Going further, Wirzba's Food and Faith, Angel Montoya's A Theology of Food and on a more practical level Rita Madden of the Orthodox radio station Ancient Faith Radio, have been important in reminding Christians that food has an important part to play in the practice of the Christian faith.

More specifically, Alexander Schmemann's For the Life of the World also draws our attention to the sacramental significance of a post-consumer apprehension of food. 

Centuries of secularism have failed to transform eating into something strictly utilitarian. Food is still treated with reverence...To eat is still something more than to maintain bodily functions. People may not understand what that 'something more' is, but they nonetheless desire to celebrate it. They are still hungry and thirsty for sacramental life 

For Schmemann, this sacramental intuition does not mean that we should see food as an escape from the contingencies of real life (for indeed, that is what a consumerist apprehension of food seeks to achieve). Rather food, acts as an analogy of the real food of the Eucharist and

In very much the same way, though of course any analogy is condemned to fail, our entrance into the presence of Christ is an entrance into a fourth dimension which allows us to see the ultimate reality of life. It is not an escape from the world, rather it is the arrival at a vantage point from which we can see more deeply into the reality of the world

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