I’ve been living a real food lifestyle for about ten years now. I started my journey when struggling with infertility. I found Nourishing Traditions and have been learning all I can ever since! It took a lot of baby steps to get where I am now. But it wasn’t until my family moved to a farm two years ago that I realized just how important it is to care for our bodies and the Earth and to raise animals well.
And with all the recent news about glyphosate, it has become more clear that we, as a nation, are not living the way God intended.
I see it all around me with neighboring farms growing GMO crops. And I recently read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, which fully opened my eyes to the reality of our dysfunctional food and healthcare systems.
I see it first hand with my own children struggling with ADHD and food allergies. Our youngest generation has really suffered thanks to the choices of previous generations.
It has been weighing heavily on my heart for some time that most people are not living the way God intended. Even as Christians, we are not being good stewards of his creation. Whether we are doing the growing or the buying. And even in how we care for our own bodies. So today I’m going to be blunt. I hope it makes you think about daily choices and long-term consequences.
What Does God Want Us to do on Earth?
Living in the country, some of the problems with caring for the Earth are in front of me daily. I see the same genetically modified crops grown year after year in the same fields, sprayed with toxic pesticides (yes, glyphosate!). The soil has been depleted of all nutrients. Which means the crops themselves are lifeless. It is basically a field of calories, void of any nutrition.
Farms have gone from small, diverse subcultures to mega-farms with field after field of corn and soybeans. These, in turn, become the bulk of our food, whether it’s infant formula, a box of cereal or even the unsuspecting bottle of honey
Unfortunately, there is not much incentive for farmers to change since the government makes this type of farming profitable while small-scale farms growing quality food can barely survive.
In addition to poor farming practices, we have to deal with gas emissions, water pollution and a lot of waste.
This is not what God intended for his beautiful creation.
Instead of producing lifeless food with more than five different ingredients in one product all made from corn, we should be growing a diverse population of vegetation, nourishing the soil with compost and manure, rotating crops and sourcing our food locally. We should not have to add synthetic vitamins and minerals back into our food because it has none.
Simply choosing organic food, although a step up, is not always that much better. The majority of organic food is produced by just a few large-scale farms. Their farming practices aren’t all that different from the conventional ones. And if you are choosing organic processed food…it’s still processed food. It’s still heavy on corn and void of much nutrition. And it still has to travel long distances before it gets to your table.
As good stewards we should try to source our food locally and sustainably as much as possible. Visit your local farmer’s market or start your own garden. Eat what’s fresh and in season. Then preserve the rest for winter. Not only is it better for the environment, it’s also better for your health and your budget.
I just finished freezing ten gallons and canning sixty pints of green and yellow beans from our garden. The seeds cost less than $5.00. And now we have enough beans to last us until next summer. We ate a lot fresh too. And gave some away. How’s that for eating locally and saving money?!
RELATED: If you’re ready to try a little gardening yourself, check the KS lazy gardening tips.
How Should We Care for Animals?
Animal care can be a touchy subject. How should they be treated? They are just animals. Or should we even consume animal products at all?
We should start with the fact that humans are indeed omnivores. God created us to digest plants and animals. And the Bible does tell us it is ok to eat animals. But are they just a commodity? And are we still good stewards if we eat animals that aren’t raised well?
Animals are part of God’s good creation. We are responsible for treating them well. It saddens me every time I see a cow locked up in a barn feeding on piles of corn.
Caring for Cows
Did you know…cows are herbivores? They are also ruminants. Which means their stomachs are designed to digest grass. NOT corn. Corn actually makes their stomachs bloat and can even kill them (something my children have learned already in elementary science!). Add pesticides to the mix and you really have a mess.
Sadly, most of our beef these days comes from cattle raised on feedlots, called CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operation). They are fed corn and special blends of animal parts and antibiotics. None of which is good for them. Cows should not be consuming animal products (remember – herbivores). And the antibiotics are precautionary since there is so much sickness when animals are raised in a confined space. They are fattened quickly since their bodies can only tolerate this type of feeding for a short period of time before it would kill them.
“But corn-fed cows have good marbling,” you might say. True. But the marbling scale was only created to promote the corn industry! To make you think more marbling is better so more corn could be sold to farmers.
Then there are pigs.
Pigs raised in confinement don’t have it much better. Since they are weaned too early they never lose their biting/chewing reflex. Which makes them bite the tails of other pigs standing so close. This doesn’t always bother a pig, but a bitten tale can become infected and the animal is no good.
The solution for this seems simple. Wait a few extra weeks to wean the pigs. Instead, farmers clip the tails of the pigs (without any pain medication), leaving a sore stub. So if they are bitten by another pig they will fight back instead of ignoring the biting and allowing it to get infected.
What about chickens?
You see commercials all the time about “cage-free” chickens and eggs. Do you know what that means? Absolutely nothing!
It just means all the chickens are piled into one really large coop instead of in individual cages. They still don’t go outside. They are still just sitting in filth. There must legally be a small door to the coop. But it is not opened until they are at last 5-6 weeks old. At which point they are so used to their living environment they don’t notice it. And for meat birds, they will be butchered within a few weeks anyway.
If you buy animal products from the store or a restaurant, the majority of the time this is what you are consuming.
What if instead, we source our meat from a local farmer that raises animals the way God intended? Try visiting the farm where you purchase your meat. The cows should be grazing on grass. The pigs should be outside rooting around. The chickens should be running all over the yard eating bugs and leaves. They should have a good life, growing and eating the way God designed them. Then there should be just one bad day (as Lori and Joel Salatin say) for them.
Plants and animals work in harmony when they are allowed to live the way God intended. The sun transfers energy to the plants. The plants transfer that energy to the animals. And both the plants and the animals transfer the energy to us.
Cows keep the grass trimmed while getting nourished. Chickens keep the fly population down. Pigs can even rotate compost for you by rooting! It’s really an amazing design when you see the intricate interactions (check out Polyface Farm if you want to see this in action). We need to stop intervening with our “bigger and faster is better” mentality. And let things work the way God designed them.
I believe there is great nutritional value in animal products and that they are a gift from God. But I think I’d rather be a vegetarian or vegan than consist on a diet of CAFO raised animals. As a Christian, I can’t support treating animals that way.
How to Live for God Daily
If caring for the Earth and animals is so important, think how it’s even more important to care for our own bodies?!
Sadly these days most people treat their bodies very poorly. They don’t sleep enough. They eat processed food. And they fill their lives with so much stress.
Those are the generalized problems. But then we get into the details.
How much money do you spend on food? How does that compare to how much you spend on recreation? We are always trying to save money by cutting our grocery budget. Yet we spend freely on non-essentials.
Quality food should be a top priority. And your budget should reflect that (though finding ways to save on real food is always good).
What about health care? Do you hope that you stay healthy? Or do you invest in your health by spending money on preventative care, like visits to the chiropractor, herbs and supplements, essential oils and exercise equipment? This type of spending will actually prevent more health care costs in the future.
Let’s dig even deeper.
What are you willing to do to your body? There are many optional medical interventions these days that people do without much thought. Male and female sterilization, circumcision, gallbladder removal (it’s often not necessary, though doctors are quick to suggest it).
Even overexercise and extreme diets are often not in line with caring for your body. They can do more harm (stress) than good. We’re so focused on dieting and looking a certain way that we forget to nourish and care for our bodies. They are God’s temple after all.
What about our children? They start life with a bang, injected with toxic substances and aborted fetal cells. They grow up eating convenience foods (because it’s too inconvenient for parents to take time to cook nourishing food) void of nutrition. Kids are given round after round of antibiotics. Then they spend day after day sitting in desks for hours on end.
A Better Way for Kids
What if we let kids be kids and run around outside as much as possible? What if we boosted their immune systems with fresh air, sunshine, bare feet and nourishing food? How about we teach them some new food rules?
Do you immediately give your child medication when they have a fever? Fevers have a purpose! A fever is part of God’s amazing design of our bodies. A fever is how your body fights illness. Just like your ankle swells when you get a sprain. A fever is the swelling when you are sick. We need to stop being so quick to intervene with medications and let our bodies heal on their own. God created our bodies with the ability to heal if we allow them to.
What God Expects of Man
We have really veered off the path. I know I’m not perfect. And we often talk about the 80/20 rule. But I think it’s time we started aiming more for 100%. Meaning we always choose to support well-raised animals. We always make self-care a priority. We always try to source food locally when possible. We are omnivores.
I don’t say any of this to make people feel bad. I certainly have room for improvement! But we do speak with our dollars. The less processed food and CAFO meat you buy, the less demand there will be. And less of it will be made.
After two years of farm life, I am very passionate about caring for God’s good creation. We have a large garden where we grow as much of our food as we can. We also have apple, pear and peach trees. What we don’t grow we source locally. It takes a lot of time and effort to preserve summer’s and fall’s bounty, But it is so worth it to have quality, sustainable food year round. Even with a new baby in the house, I try to do as much preserving as I can to keep us going.
Just the other day I went grocery shopping. I hadn’t been to the store in almost 2 weeks. And the only vegetables I bought were sweet potatoes. We didn’t grow any this year, and I don’t know where to buy them locally at this point. If it weren’t for my nursling’s food reactions and my limited diet I wouldn’t buy them at all.
We work on this as a family. From toddlerhood on my kids help in the garden with the growing and in the kitchen with cooking and preserving. I want the next generation to stop relying on convenience and get back to hard work and good stewardship.
Currently, we also raise chickens for eggs. We hope to add meat chickens and pigs to the farm in the near future. We buy our fresh, raw milk from a local farm. We purchase our beef, pork, and chicken from three other local farmers.
Everybody has different resources and limitations. But we can all make more informed choices. Let’s start living the way God really intended. Let’s care for His creation and marvel at its complexity and beauty.
28 thoughts on “How Does God Want Us to Live?”
My heart is so discouraged when I read this. It is all SO, so true. So wonderful. Do you have any resources for people who simply, can not afford to do what you’re saying (although they so desperately wish they could )? In order to be home with my children while they’re young, we barely make it month-to month, and I am all about finding discounts, shopping at thrift stores or online when needed, making as much food as I can from scratch, never eating out, one hair cut a year (for myself) and I have a few side-hustle income generating projects that I barely have time for in my life of raising children, keeping a home, and serving in my church. My kids dip non-organic vegetables into non-organic homemade hummus…and eat meat from Aldi – I try to get the organic whole chicken when its discounted due to expiration, and use the meat throughout the week, but sometimes I have to buy the bad stuff. Any specific recommendations? We only have a small amount of space for two raised beds, and we do grow three crops a year, but that’s it. We do benefit from many gifted eggs from friends with chickens, but overall you see the overall scope of our situation.
It sounds to me like you are doing quite well, Jamie! You are doing the best you can in your situation. And that is ok. One thing that could be helpful for you is to save up and buy a large freezer. Then buy your meat, locally, in bulk. It’s a one-time large sum, but in the long run you save a lot of money. We buy our pork, beef and chicken from local farmers. I think we pay $2.75/lb. for our beef. That’s everything from organ meats to ground beef to T-bone steaks! We actually have THREE freezers. Two with meat. And one with fruits, veggies, baked goods, etc.
My kids love veggies with hummus. You can buy organic dried beans SUPER cheap and cook them to make hummus. That is a very budget friendly meal/snack. You can make a bunch and freeze it too. I wouldn’t worry too much about a few non-organic veggies. Just make sure you wash them well.
How do you deal with fact that many people just don’t care about the environment or living the right way?
That’s the whole point of the post, EM 🙂 The more we talk about it and share the information, hopefully more people will listen. I honestly think the problem is not so much people not caring. It’s that they truly just don’t think about it. I know I didn’t 10 years ago. So getting the word out will hopefully inspire more change.
Great article! I agree very much that doing what you can to support better food makes a difference even if you don’t do it 100%. My goal is to do a little better every year.
Another reason I support smaller, greener food operations as a Christian is that these businesses support their owners and workers in a more caring and effective way than large corporations focused on the profits of the CEO and faceless “shareholders” while maximizing “utilization of human resources.” I know some big corporations are better than others, but in general, bigness is built on systems that treat people like machine parts. I love reading the newsletter from my CSA farm, in which employees are mentioned by name and we get updates on their lives.
Here’s Katie’s post about rethinking circumcision, since you mentioned that issue–it’s a bit difficult to find the article because it’s about other birth/newborn decisions as well.
Good point, Becca! I love supporting small businesses too!! Even if it costs a little more, I’d much rather support a family vs a big business.
Thanks for the link.
Great article, thank you for sharing your journey with us.
I’d also love to hear your thoughts on plastic-free and zero-waste from a stewardship point of view?
Those are also very important, Alissa! Taking care of God’s creation means reducing waste as much as possible. Katie has lots of posts on that topic.
Amen! Every little step one takes to be more responsible stewards is a step in the right direction. Can’t grow a garden, try herbs on your windowsill. Take advantage of farmers markets, and freeze, dehydrate or can the abundance. Learn to cook from scratch and get away from fast food/convenience foods
Very nice article. It just feels like a big, uphill battle! More people need to awaken to the fact that our foods are not what they were 50 years ago and start making changes little by little. Thank you!
It really does, Debbie. All we can do is make good choices and keep encouraging others to do the same.
If we say we should eat according to how God wants us to, shouldn’t we also avoid meat (pig) that he says is unclean, and thus unfit for human consumption?
9About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
The Old Testament talks about unclean animals. The New Testament talks about Jesus making all things clean. Also, Jewish cultural customs are different from Christian living.
I know some people have different views on this. But that is my understanding of God’s Word here.
Are you willing to look at this more closely?
V17 “Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate.”
If the meaning of the vision had been so obvious to Peter, as we seem to think, why did he wonder what it meant?
V28 “Then he [Peter] said to them, ‘You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call ANY MAN common or unclean.'” (Emphasis mine)
In v28, Peter gives the interpretation of the vision–it wasn’t that we were suddenly allowed to eat meat that was never considered food from the beginning (such as pig, alligator, mice, dog, horse, etc). It was that the Jewish rule (not the same as God given Law) of refusing to eat with (or even associate with) gentiles was not correct. It was at this point Peter realized the Good News was for the gentiles as well!
I assume when you say Jesus made all things clean you are referring to Mark 7:18 “He said to them, ‘Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him?’ To which some versions add “By this, Jesus declared all foods clean.” Please note this is an addition and the earliest and most reliable Greek texts do not include parenthetical addition. Furthermore, if by that statement Jesus had declared animals such as pork to be clean, then Peter would never have responded the way he did in Acts 10:14. He walked with Jesus. If Jesus had actually declared pork clean (which he didn’t), then Peter would have already eaten bacon (which he hadn’t).
Please don’t take my word for it. Study it out for yourself.
I know there are different interpretations and different opinions on this. For me, I am ok eating pork. If you are not, then don’t. Either way we should still treat pigs well.
The meat issued is a hotly debated topic. There are different opinions to be sure. As one who has learned NOT to debate, because debating is listed as a sin; here’s a thought.
Col 2:16-17 KJVlite, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come: but the body is of Christ.”
This thought runs deeper than 2 verses, it’s just the theme of the thought. look at it in context. I agree with the statement. “I know there are different interpretations and different opinions on this. For me, I am ok eating pork. If you are not, then don’t. Either way we should still treat pigs well.”
The Jews were told not to eat pork as a “regulation”. The only thing they told the first gentile believers to do was Acts 15:29. ALWAYS read in context. ” That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication…”
It’s the obedience to instructions that should be the focus, not the instructions themselves. All of us believers, both Jew and gentile are to live with the whole Bible in perspective.
Good topic. Interesting discussion. Please accept my comments in the spirit of not wanting to cause problems.
If the only thing new gentile believers were instructed in was to abstain from meat offered to idols, blood, things strangled, and fornication, then is it ok for new believers to murder, steal, and commit adultery? Of course not! Rather, read on in Acts 15 to verse 21. “For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” Just as new Christians today are given a few basic instructions rather than having everything thrown at them at once, James and the other apostles were giving the first (not only) instructions.
I only asked that you consider an alternative. In the spirit of not wishing to debate or argue, I will step out now.
Thank you for your reply. No, I did not mean only, I did mean first. I chose my wording poorly. I had to cut it short. (I was at work and took a moment to reply without a proofread before posting)
Hi Kat and Greg – I wanted to quickly jump in because in my Bible study last spring about how the Old Testament is fullfilled in the New, we learned that there were 3 types of law: Liturgical, moral, and judicial. All 3 were important in the OT, and the MORAL law, what you mention as murdering, stealing, and adultery, is an unchanged line from p. 1 of Genesis to our lives today. Judicial law is the whole thing about “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” basically that the Church supports people following their local governmental laws as long as they don’t conflict with His moral law. The liturgical law is where our topic today – pork – comes in. Liturgical laws were things Jewish people did to follow God’s plan for liturgy, such as priests having to cleanse themselves in a certain way before entering the temple, what they ate, the prayers they prayed, etc. Jesus pretty clearly called the Pharisees out on being too in love with liturgical law, and when He healed people on the Sabbath and supported his disciples picking grain on the Sabbath, he laid the foundation for something NEW. All the liturgies in the new Christian Church He instituted at the Last Supper and the Crucifixion hearken back to the Jewish liturgy and reflect that process, but they are not the same. When Christ drank the 4th cup of the Jewish Passover ON THE CROSS instead of at the table, He said, “It is finished.” Here He is referring to the liturgies of Judaism. All those liturgical laws are fulfilled in His sacrifice and unnecessary for humankind’s new relationship with our Creator. Certainly we are welcome to be insolidarity with modern Jews and avoid pork, but it would be incorrect to say that God still forbids it, and a lot of really strange liturgical and judicial laws from Leviticus would have to come back as well. That’s just not how Christianity works – Jesus “made all things new.”
I hope that gives you a fresh perspective – I promise you this isn’t in a spirit of argument, only sharing truth rooted very deeply in Scripture. We must be cautious about interpreting God’s Word for ourselves without the full picture.
Thanks for chiming in, Katie. My postpartum brain isn’t capable of talking theology right now 😛
In the hope that it may be helpful to some of you, I’d like to add something that clarified my thoughts after wrestling with this question for a few years.
I do think that Peter’s vision is metaphorical, as the meaning given is that the gentiles are now accepted into God’s people. So I don’t think that passage really says anything about food, though it’s what we first think of. But on reading Romans 14, I became convinced that that passage does tell us we can eat the unclean foods. Rom. 14:20 “Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.” So it does specifically say every food is clean, in a context of eating actual food.
But we still have the wisdom of 1 Cor. 6:12, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.” I’ve heard some good reasoning about how the clean food rules are healthy guidelines that can prevent food-borne illnesses more common in certain types of food. That doesn’t mean we can’t eat those things, but it would be wise to consider extra caution, such as being even more careful about the source of our pork than we might for beef, avoiding shellfish for those with very poor immune systems, etc.
And the main focus of Scripture is still on issues like the ones Mary is writing about. Are my irresponsible food choices encouraging my neighbor to stumble? Are my unhealthy choices hurting my children? Are my food sources harming the earth and its ability to support future generations? Am I being so arrogant about better food choices that I am not loving to poor or food-ignorant neighbors?
Thank you for this article. We’ve gotten used to talking about “healthier,” but are still usually afraid to say “this is what God wants.” I think you’ve done well at saying that in a helpful, encouraging way.
Thank you! Very helpful.
This is the exact correct philosophy of living. Thank you. I could not havebeen put it any better myself!
Thank you, Greg!
So true, thank you for sharing truth. Learning how to grow our food ourselves and buy the rest locally and not only is it better for us but it tastes so much better too! God’s Foods trump mans any day!
Camille Noden, Certified Biblical Health Coach and FS Cleanse Coach and Healthy Living Bible Study teacher
Owner of Rose Haven Wellness
You’re welcome, Camille! Yes, God’s design is the best!