Don't fear the food chain
A Christian Science perspective on daily life
As I've read recent reports about the recall of spinach because of the danger of bacterial contamination, I've felt a lot of compassion for those who've been affected by it. And I've been grateful for the quick response by restaurants and grocery stores.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
But this responsible, practical behavior seems to be offset by a kind of hysteria that isn't helpful to anyone. This fear is understandable, but it will only inhibit the clearing up of this problem.
I know what it is to be fearful of food, because I used to suffer from a severe reaction to crabmeat. One night at a restaurant, I asked the waitress if a certain stew included this meat, and she said that it didn't. But it didn't take me more than a few spoonfuls to know that I had just ingested something that could make me horribly ill.
My first step was to pray, and it was natural to turn to the Lord's Prayer, which Jesus gave to his disciples. When I got to the passage in the prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread," I paused, and asked myself, "Would God give me something poisonous as my daily bread?"
Jesus' teachings about God answered my question. In his Sermon on the Mount he asked, "What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?... If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matt. 7:9, 11).
This line of reasoning turned me away from fear to a conviction that God loved me and would never give me anything evil. The fact is that God is Love; He loves each of us, not just people who pray a lot. That love is an antidote, not only to the fear I felt back then, but also to the present situation.
Jesus understood that there is only one God, and that God's perfect creation doesn't include the possibility of evil – no matter what form it takes. Nor does it include another power – bacteria, sickness, disease – that is God's competitor. God is the only power. And food cannot deprive us of His divine protection. Mary Baker Eddy, a follower of Jesus, wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "The fact is, food does not affect the absolute Life of man, and this becomes self-evident, when we learn that God is our Life" (p. 388).
As I was praying that night, I saw that because life comes from God, Spirit, and actually is spiritual, God maintains my health and life. Since God is good, and the Maker of creation, it follows that everything God made would be like Him – loving, powerful, and good. On this basis, I felt I could trust God to take care of me.
The symptoms quickly faded. From then on, I was more careful about what I ate, and although the fear of eating crab occasionally nagged at me, avoiding crab seemed to be a viable solution.
During those years, I learned a lot more about God's love, how all-encompassing it is and how it prevents sickness, even in cases where I'd been exposed to severe illness. Gradually, my conviction of God's all-power grew.
Much later, I realized that I was no longer afraid; that rejecting crab had become a habit, not a necessity. So one night I ordered crab and ate it. And I didn't get sick. A fuller understanding of God's creation had healed me. In the years since, I have eaten crab without any illness.
That idea of our inseparability from God's love can help all of us through the spinach crisis as well. Because we can never be separated from God, we can never be separated from good. Neither can the people who raised the spinach, those who packed it, or those who bought it be victimized by the belief that God is absent or uncaring about His creation.
All of us are under God's care.
There shall no evil befall thee,
neither shall any plague come
nigh thy dwelling.