What would Jesus Eat?

Josh at The Food Section points us to a list of new Food Network shows, including one called “What would Jesus Eat?”. The fine folks over at eGullet have been wondering about what the show might offer.

I can tell you right now what to expect, if the show is based off the book that popped up in 2002: Nothing substantial.

The book, written by Dr. Don Colbert has been sold as “A cookbook inspired by Christ’s diet…” Dr. Colbert himself has said “”I thought I’d go back to the training manual — the Bible — and see what Jesus ate. Lo and behold, Jesus ate the healthiest diet ever developed, the Mediterranean diet.”

Which would be a wonderful place to start if it weren’t for a few pesky facts:
1) The New Testament apparently doesn’t talk about what Jesus ate all that much.
2) The Mediterranean Diet is based off of folks who lived a far different lifestyle than the rest of us.
3) In Biblical Times, the average life expectancy was roughly 30-40 years of age.

These facts make his choice of Jesus’ diet as questionable.

Then there’s the Old Testament vs. New Testament debate.When Dr. Colbert applies the theory that Jesus would have followed the Old Testament dietary restrictions (which seems plausible enough of a theory), the new Testament contradicts this in Mark 7:14-19:

14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’ ˮ

17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?ˮ he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? 19 For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.ˮ (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.ˮ)

To top it off, his recipes include ingredients like lemons, avacodos, tomatoes; items not known in the Middle East during the time when it’s said that Jesus lived. Even though it’s possible that Jesus ate falafel, it’s impossible that he ate salsa. This makes Dr. Colbert’s work seem shallow and exploitive.

The food experts at Food TV should know this, and this is what makes the show seem equally shallow and exploitive, if not more so.

In Dr. Colbert’s defense, if you remove the religious apect of his diet, he gives decent (if not common sense) advice. From his introduction:

  • Eliminate all processed foods from your cupboards, and start over. Begin to buy whole-grain products and fresh fruits and vegetables. Stock your shelves with olive oil, nuts, seeds, and whole grain.
  • Cook and bake with whole-grain products. Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and nuts.
  • Substitute olive oil for butter, margarine, salad dressings, and other oils.
  • Avoid all fried or deep-fried foods.
  • Limit cheese intake to Parmesan or feta cheese (used on main dishes or salads). Do not eat blocks of cheese.
  • Eat yogurt with fruit, or sweeten it with Stevia (a natural substitute for sugar with no harmful side effects).
  • Choose fish and poultry over red meat, and eat meat sparingly. Cut out sugar sweets.
  • Enjoy a glass of red wine with lunch or dinner.
  • Exercise regularly – walk more.
  • Make dining an experience that you enjoy with others. Slow down your eating, savor your food, and enjoy sharing life with family and friends.

The problem is, these words of advice are hardly revolutionary. This further makes his book look as if he’s using religion as a marketing tool…

…and The Food Network has bought into this hook, line and sinker.


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