The best definition of humility I’ve heard come (paraphrased) from my Catholic faith tradition – “True humility is knowing what you can do, and what you can’t.” And, I might add, being Ok with it.
So, ‘food humility’, is knowing what you can do with food, and what you can’t, and being OK with THAT.
What I want to focus on today is, “what I can afford?”
I’d love to buy all organic veggies, grains, fruits, and dairy. That would be incredibly great. It would be meeting my values, my desires, and my health.
Can we afford to do that? No way! (and look to Wed for a post on a few ideas of how to deal with that practically. But today is about the philosophy of the thing…)
It is sometimes a struggle for me to know what I can’t do – and this was brought up again in a conversation with a good friend, as we talked about where we draw the line in our food purchases. THIS conversation came up, initially, because I wanted a double-check: were we spending too much on food? Hub’band and I were looking through a year or so of financial data, and noted that our grocery spending was more than we thought it was! We order milk directly from a farmer, participate in a monthly food co-op of organic products, buy a lot from the natural foods section of our grocery store, and also do things like buy half a cow or a pig, chickens from a local farmer, feed our flock of backyard hens, buy local honey -etc, etc.
As my friend and I candidly discussed our budgets (and, I know our goals for healthy eating were very similar), we found that we were spending about the same (and we both felt the ouch-ie factor on that number) – and also still had areas where our *lack* of food humility continued to gnaw at us.
We both couldn’t afford all-organic dairy. We both had to draw the line at certain veggies or fruits. Grains were also hit and miss. We both talked about ways to do our best with what we have – with an eye on the bottom line (and even on decreasing that bottom line wherever possible!).
Food humility has affected me in different ways over the last decade. Our family has participated in the WIC program. We have bought all-organic. We have purchased discount food boxes from Angel Food Ministries (which, sadly, is now not operating), and organic and biodynamic produce from a CSA. We’ve also shopped at Cheep Foods for ALL our groceries (another store that is, sadly, closed) at different times, or for just a few items here or there at other times.
Each of these decisions has come with different struggles as related to food humility. Food humility is like the virtue of humility. The growth in life and spirit comes when you accept and embrace it – rather than fight it.
The times when they are overflowing (due to an influx of funds, or a big super-saver deal) remind me that I’m not to hoard, but to share. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we don’t pray, “Give us this day our extreme couponing cupboard full of creamed corn and toothpaste that I got at a very good price and will last me through coming apocolypse (because, really, why else would you buy all that creamed corn??)” – we pray,
Give us this day our daily bread. (And let us be reminded to be thankful for it.)
And give us food humility.
What are your reactions to the above? If you didn’t call it food humility, what would *you* call it?