CSA Charleston: the great mustard greens FAIL, food, and faith

All the goodies we got this week!
All the goodies we got this week!

As you can see, we got another cornucopia this week.  To break it down:

  • 1 watermelon
  • 1 cantaloupe
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 bunch greens (more on this in a minute)
  • 3 winter squash
  • 5 ears corn
  • 6 banana peppers
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 3 turnips with greens

Right off the bat, I have to confess that not only have I STILL not used last week’s beets, but this week’s turnips didn’t get used either.  The watermelon was enjoyed as a beach-day snack, and the cantaloupe is sliced and in a box in the fridge for snackies.  The tomatoes, banana peppers, and corn were grilled and eaten with steak with guests Saturday night. The squash was roasted and pureed and was made into soup along with the squash we received in our box yesterday (that box will be the subject of next week’s post).

Which leaves the greens.  I thought they were just greens, like kale or something, so I made some salmon and sauteed the greens with garlic and olive oil, for a little yummy wilted greens action.  Internet, I took ONE BITE.  My nose started to burn, my throat refused to swallow.  I had to spit them out.  It turns out they were MUSTARD greens, which, as a blogger friend helpfully informed me, turn into mustard gas, that great WWI weapon.  They were inedible.  I will have to do some research to figure out what to do with them, because we got more in the next week’s box.

Now that I’ve described the contents of the box and what we did with it all, I thought I’d share a little more about how I feel about this little experiment in eating.

Last night, while roasting squash and making soup, I listened to a sermon from Mars Hill church.  I often do this while cooking, but this particular sermon was on the subject of eating.  You can read a .pdf with aspects of this short sermon here.  The sermon started with a verse from 1 Corinthians 10: 23-31:

“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ saked— the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

The preacher then connected the freedom of eating in the New Testament to the prelapsarian Garden of Eden. He described how God told Adam that he was put in the garden to work and to take care of the Garden.  He noted that the Hebrew words for “to work” and “to take care of” used to describe Adam’s (if I was going to get literary here I’d say that at this point Adam is a symbol for why all of us were created) role in the garden are usually used elsewhere to describe the act of serving and worshipping God.  Basically, to worship God was to TAKE CARE OF what God created in the garden (aka the world).

He went on to point out how central eating was in the life of Jesus, particularly highlighting the Last Supper, though if I had been preaching this sermon, I would have also highlighted the fact that after the resurrection, some of the disciples did not recognize Jesus until he shared a meal with them, having breakfast with them next to a lake.  To me, this shows that sometimes, it is in sharing meals that we can best see Jesus.

Basically the entire sermon hinged on what it means to eat to the glory of God, which is with thanksgiving.  Particularly interesting to me was when he pointed out that while Christians often pray before a meal asking God to “bless the food,” Jews like Jesus would have prayed before a meal blessing God and recognizing that just having the food meant that it was already blessed.  God sent sun and rain and hands to harvest and hands to prepare: THIS is a blessing.  How could it get any more blessed?

The sermon also touched on eating more wholistic food: food that is local, organic, humanely raised, harvested and processed by workers who are paid a fair wage and treated with dignity and respect, and how this kind of food allows us to take care of (aka worship) the garden more appropriately.

I have mentioned that I listened to this sermon while roasting squash, turning it into soup, saving and toasting its seeds, slicing bread that I baked myself.  To me, as I prepared that meal and celebrated those ingredients, that was an act of worship.  An act of thanksgiving.  When I prepare food that came from my county, I am more connected with it.  On days the sun shines on me, it also shines on my food.  On days when it rains and I’m not happy to be getting wet at the bus stop, I know that the rain is also making my dinner.  My gratitude and enjoyment of my meals is increased many times over, simply because I know where it comes from and whose hands have nurtured it.  When I prepare this produce thoughtfully, I am expressing gratitude for the hands that raised it and the God who blessed it with sun, and soil, and rain.  When I eat food that is better for my body and the earth, I am thanking God for both.  When I share that meal with someone I love, I am thanking God for sending me people to love and share with.  In many ways I have finally realized that I do not have to ask God to bless my food, because my food is such a blessing.  Instead I simply express joy and thanksgiving.

5 Replies to “CSA Charleston: the great mustard greens FAIL, food, and faith”

  1. simply recipes is one of my go-to sites for recipes from both the blog-author & posters. she’s cooked mustard greens simply (although it sounds similar to what you did). there are also 56 comments to it, that may have some recipes.


    good luck with it. i’ve never cooked mustard greens. i don’t even think i’ve actually eaten them, come ot think of it.


  2. oh and i agree there’s much to consider with our eating and our worship. those are things that should be connected as things we do daily. great food for thought on it (pun intended).


  3. Hmm, I’m looking at that post and a lot of people cook them exactly as I did, and love them, it seems. Maybe I just don’t like the taste that others are describing as “peppery”?


  4. Oh, and I should also mention that the eggplant was made into ratatouille with two long-left-over patty pan squash and some canned tomatoes. I had it for lunch yesterday, froze a quart of it, and have two servings left in the fridge.


  5. Mustard greens can be very good. Well they can be good if you like cooked spinach and collard greens, turnip greens and the like. I’m sure there is a nice older Carolina lady who has more than a few recipes for you. My grandmother cooked them. I love them. But I will warn you, the whole house will smell, and smell badly while they cook. My suggestion, cook them on a nice cool fall day with the windows open. Sit on the porch and read while they boil.


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