Friday, March 30, 2012

Mormons and Meat, Dairy and Sugar

I'm at my grandparents' house doing laundry right now. My Grandma has a cookbook on the table that I guess she's been investigating. It's called The Worldwide Ward Cookbook and it's by Deanna Buxton. I opened it up hoping I'd find some rather exotic recipes from all over the world, but I was sorely disappointed. I didn't find much that was new and different for a ward cookbook- especially one from Utah- which means most of the recipes were high in meat, dairy, and sugar. (And most of the recipes came from Utahns or Americans living in foreign countries.)

I am still mystified as to why meat, dairy, and sugar are considered staples of a Mormon diet. It's obviously a cultural thing because the diet that our scriptures advise us to follow in Doctrine and Covenants Section 89 reads as summarized:
  •  This is a word of wisdom given by invitation and not by command or constraint. It is given because there are those in 1833 and in the future who would use misinformation about our health for their own gain.
  • Stay away from wine and other alcoholic beverages.
  • Do not ingest tobacco; use it for treating bruises and also in treating sick cattle, but in these capacities it should be used with judgement and skill.
  • Hot drinks (primarily coffee and tea in 1833, which were often ingested at near boiling temperatures to warm the body's vital energies) are not good for the stomach or other systems of the body.
  • Eat any and all the leafy greens that don't have poisonous properties and eat them in their season. Greens are for the nature and constitution of man. (Could this be interpreted as the most important part of our diet? Greens are the most nutrient dense food in the world...)
  • Eating meat is acceptable to the Lord, but should be eaten sparingly and is specifically for times of hunger, cold and famine. It is pleasing to the Lord that flesh of beasts not be used at all.
  • Eat any and all grains. They are given to be the staff (support) of the diet of men and animals. However, wheat is most recommended for humans, while other grains are better for other animals- which, again, are supposed to be eaten sparingly. (Note, this was long before genetically modified grains caused allergic reactions and most wheat didn't sit for long periods of time on store shelves and develop fungus.)
  • Eat fruits and vegetables. (This includes nuts and seeds, by definition.)
  • Everyone who does these things will be healthy and avoid disease (a.k.a "the destroying angel").
If this sounds unfamiliar to you other Latter Day Saints out there, I challenge you to go open D&C 89 and read it. This is exactly what it says. But most Sunday School and Seminary lessons dance around everything after the "no alcohol-no-tobacco-no-coffee/tea" parts because it's very uncomfortable to address the fact that most Mormons are not observing the "do's" of the Word of Wisdom. The average Utah Mormon's diet is largely meat, dairy, and sugar. Why, I don't know.

Maybe we Relief Society sisters should have a cookbook rebellion. Maybe we should put out a cookbook full of delicious recipes that won't contribute to heart disease and diabetes (a.k.a. "the destroying angel"). I'd put my black bean brownies in the dessert section.

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