I work at a restaurant that is famous for its biscuits, cornbread, baked potatoes, and other variants of delicious homestyle, Southern cooking laden with comfort. Of those who know me personally, they know I love eating. It’s been a bad romance over the years, as I’m now in the process of shedding the results of the love, but I especially love the food produced by my employer. However, during my shifts as an employee, I notice how others tend to treat their food once it has arrived at their tables. This has caused some thought-provoking questions within myself in regards to what it means to grow as an ethical eater.
For those not intertwined in the foodservice industry, a bus pan is a large, wide, compartmentalized pan used by bussers (those who clear the table) to carry dirty dishes to the kitchen. As a hostess, I go to and from the kitchen to retrieve damp cloths to wipe down tables in my spare time. Last night was no different. As I walked back to the kitchen, I maneuvered around a large bus pan and something caught my eye. On the top of the Friday night dishes was a plate, almost completely clean of food, except for a large steak. A large, almost exactly whole steak had remained uneaten and was put into the bus pan for disposal.
The sight caused me to stop in my tracks for a split second. Here it was an expensive, whole steak, sitting in a bus pan on its way to the dishwasher. If you can’t already tell, strange things (like steak) make me stop completely in my tracks, but I tried to control my thoughts as I looked at the steak:
Maybe the person couldn’t hold all of their food?
Regardless, I moved on to wipe tables, but the steak in the bus pan lingered in my mind. Though I’m not casting judgement upon the individual who didn’t eat the steak, I am certain that this incident reflects our society’s greater notion about food. In a world surround by fast-paced, action packed storms, food is often fast-paced. There’s instant coffee, drive-thrus at fast food joints, premade meals, and meals that are ready in mere minutes thanks to microwaving technology.
As a result, I believe that society views food as something to prepare or to throw away if it’s not needed. It’s just that convenient. However, as a Christian, I am reminded that food is an important part and image of the Christian life. Jesus prayed “give us this day our daily bread” (Matt 6:11) and food can be used to entertain strangers (or angels unaware) (Heb 13:2). In the same vein, no matter what we eat, whether we are vegetarians or meat eaters, Christians must remember that the food God gives us is intended to fuel the body for the glory of Christ (1 Cor. 6:19-20). I believe that when Christians elect to keep this biblical truth in mind, we will stop leaving our steaks or chicken or carrots to be taken away in a bus pan, and remember that there is a God who loves us and wants to use our bodies for much more than we can imagine.
PS – My second blog post ever was about ethical eating. I like to talk about it. A lot. You can read it here