Meanwhile the eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain
where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down
before him, though some hesitated. Jesus came up and spoke to them. He
said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go,
therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to
observe all the commands I gave you. And look, I am with you always;
yes, to the end of time.’

Christians among readers of Grist will recognize the preceding
passage as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), Jesus’s call to
spread his message to the world. Religion, of course, takes many forms,
but its most interesting form to date is food. Many folks, it seems,
have embraced food, or food activism, as a new religion.

I don’t toss this out lightly: I’m religious myself—I’m involved in
a ministerial training program at the Buddhist temple of which I am a
member—and having converted from one faith to another, I think I’m
fairly adept at recognizing others who share my affliction. Zealotry,
passion, conviction, and a touch of self-righteousness in many cases,
are all markers of religious faith.

None of this is surprising, really. How many among us are chasing
after miracle foods, downing gallons of pomegranate juice, or wolfing
down goji or açaí berries, convinced they’ll somehow give us health and
happiness and, perhaps, make us sexier to boot? I remember a smirking
Twitter posting I saw months ago: “I’m having goji berries and green
tea.” Had the poster been in reach, I might have given him a
wedgie…just because.

Others throw themselves into food fads or specialized diets:
locavores, vegans, low carbs, wheat free, dairy free, raw milk—the list
is very long. There are, often enough, sound bases for many of these
decisions: actual allergies, for example, or other health concerns. I
am a firm believer that buying local is better, and buying organic when
feasible is a smarter choice.

With the release of the Oscar-nominated documentary
Food, Inc., I was astounded at
the number of people who announced the film had changed their lives in an almost
Pauline-road-to-Damascus kind of way. It was, absolutely, a very good movie and
like past food-industry exposés—Upton Sinclair’s
The Jungle is the obvious
example—it brought a level of awareness to the public that has and will
continue to improve conditions not only for people who eat, but for farm
workers, farmers, and slaughterhouse employees, as well as
the animals we raise for food.