In the box thinking


With school in full swing and the non-summer work schedule firmly in place, one of life’s persistent questions rises to the fore once again: What’s for lunch? Options abound, of course–and with them, so do the choices, quandaries, dilemmas. Fruit? Fruit leather? Vegetables? And… dessert: what about that?

A while back, Twinkies (does this noun always appear as a plural?), the lunch box staple, succumbed to market pressure and were taken out of productions. However, as studies and anecdotal evidence have shown, this is one durable snack. New ones might not be rolling off the lines, but those already in existence will last, their virtue undiminished by time.

Twinkies remind me that a long shelf life is not the same as lasting value. I’m aware, too, of how readily available they were, and how easy to eat–and how neither of those qualities is necessarily positive, either. And then, in a day when we are far more careful about what we eat, I’m pondering this kind of food. A quick buzz, a sudden smile–such effects need not be automatically  eschewed, but to produce empty calories and eat what does not nourish–should that business model persist? Should such habits be encouraged?

Granted, raising philosophical questions around lunch is probably not something we need to do every day. On the other hand, occasional examination of what’s obvious, of what we already know–this might be worthwhile.

I think of my college Greek professor who liked to rewrite his ‘Introduction to Greek’ notes each year. He could have coasted; after decades at the task, he could have delivered these lectures in his sleep. Instead, he went back and took a fresh look. Same as a seminary prof, who made it a practice to review verb forms and noun declensions, asking questions about what he already knew.

Lunch? It happens every day, common as weeds, routine as sunset. But maybe also it offers a portal into other space less frequently visited. What are we eating? Why? To ruminate on questions like these (and observations like this) is not a bad way to spend a midday half-hour.

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