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does God intend for us to eat whole foods?

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | Jun 14, 2009

Today at church, they taught my favorite lesson, on “The Word of Wisdom” (7 million LDS people in the U.S. had this lesson today).   Mormons have a scripture (Doctrine & Covenants 89) revealed in 1833 that is all about what we should and shouldn’t eat.   Consider that this was almost 200 years ago, when little was known in the scientific community about nutrition.   Even if you’re not LDS (Mormon), I think you’ll find this scripture so interesting, that I’m going to put it here, in its entirety over a couple of days.

The green smoothie “testimonial” in my last post sets the stage for this scripture perfectly, since it links the body and spirit.   The most significant reason to care for our bodies as D&C 89 teaches is to become more spiritually pure.

The teacher today told a story about how he once went to get a homemade roll out of the cupboard, and ended up eating the whole bowl of rolls, with butter, and then a bunch of Pop-Tarts, Snickers bars, and Coke.   He said he had been in a positive mood at the beginning but his physical sickness after he ate destroyed his mental and spiritual state.

Please comment on these scriptures, regardless of whether you are LDS or not.   Are they not interesting and “before their time?”   I will  make some comments at the end, too.

“To be sent greeting; not be commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days–

“Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.

“Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation–

“That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.

“And behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.

“And again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.

“And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.

“And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.

“And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man–

“Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudcnce and thanksgiving.

“Yea, flesh also of the beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.”

Note from Robyn: I’ll post the rest tomorrow.   But consider these questions:

What do you think about this scripture relative to the Oxford-Cornell China Project, what the world now knows?   (See thechinastudy.com.)

What are the “evils and designs” of “conspiring men” in these last days with regard to health, nutrition, and food?   What do we learn from this scripture regarding the complaint, “Eating whole foods is too hard!”

What nutritional philosophies out there do you know that embrace the counsel in the last two verses?   And which absolutely defy them?


Posted in: Nutrition

19 thoughts on “does God intend for us to eat whole foods?”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    After reading The China Study lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Word of Wisdom–particularly the phrase “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you…” My husband thinks I’m over the top when I include the medical establishment, some government agencies, meat and dairy industry lobbies, and vaccine manufacturers in my list of people/groups who “conspire.” He thinks this refers to more obvious, visible threats–terrorists, drug dealers, gang members, etc. But I think that the damage done to individuals and society by people who knowingly produce and market harmful substances under the guise of “health” or “good medicine” or “science” is more insidious, precisely because it appears to be absolutely legitimate.

    The other day, my children and I were at a local park for play group. Apparently, that park is a distribution location for our city’s free breakfast and lunch summer program. I was curious to see who was funding the massive program, so I stopped by the coolers and read the posted signs. There was no mention of a sponsor, but given the information on the “rules and regulations” posters, I can guess who funds it. Rule 1: All food must be eaten in the park–you can’t take the food and eat it at home. Rule 2: You must take all the food provided–including the milk. No meal will be given out without milk. Can you guess who likely funds the program? The dairy industry. They want to hook children while they are young. And what better way than to pass out–and require the consumption of–milk?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think that many in the food industry are ‘conspiring men’. The margarine makers vilify butter; other oil producers vilify coconut oil; basically every industry vilifies their competitors, until no one knows what is actually true. The meat/dairy boards fund the ‘research’ on the US food pyramid, etc., etc., etc.

    I have temporarily given up trying to figure out the meat-related parts of the scriptures. At times within the last 7 years I have been 100% convinced that the scriptures support/mandate a vegan lifestyle, and then I was equally convinced that they support/mandate the opposite. Clearly they can’t both be right. With only 2 out of 16 LDS prophets (leaders of the LDS church) on the record as being vegetarians or even reducing meat in their diets, I really don’t know what to think!

    It’s hard to say what diets support the last two verses if I can’t even interpret what they actually mean. Does ‘sparingly’ mean compared to the amount of flesh/meat eaten at the time this scripture was written? At that time, many families would eat several types of meat at EACH meal! Or does sparingly mean to use animals as other cultures do – using every part, and wasting nothing? The last verse appears to be straightforward, but it must be considered within the context of every other related scripture. So many scriptures in the bible and the LDS scriptures support the eating of animals, and so many do not. And what do times of cold or winter mean now that we have heated homes and cars? What is famine? Is it only a nationwide shortage of food, or does it include personal times of famine, when our bodies are struggling?

    I’ll study it out again at some point, but for now I’ve put it aside — too confusing.

  3. Anonymous says:

    OK; I just found another prophet quote from Spencer W. Kimball saying that he doesn’t eat much meat. I hadn’t seen that one before. I shouldn’t say that for sure only 3 of 16 have commented on the issue. That’s just all I was able to find back in 2003ish when I was desperately searching for doctrinal justification for veganism.

  4. I remember telling my brother what the last two verses said because he couldn’t figure out why I was doing vegetarianism. He was aghast and said, “doesn’t it only mean red meat?” I guess people just think that whatever the doctors/ads/companies say to do, that is what the church says. Errrrr, WRONG! Wake up people, wake up!

    Oh, and I rethought out the “hot drinks” part after reading the water book by Batmanghelidj- he states in there that hot drinks actually lower your water supply as your body has to cool itself down. So maybe hot chocolate isn’t the best idea after all- lets try warm or chilled chocolate shall we?

  5. Anonymous says:

    “He said he had been in a positive mood at the beginning but his physical sickness after he ate destroyed his mental and spiritual state.”

    This statement pretty much sums it up for me. I am only as happy as I feel good. Physically, mentally and spiritually.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I love this post! I love the Word of Wisdom and wished more people followed the whole thing. So many people focus solely on the no tobacco and no alcohol thing and forget about the counsel regarding food. The Ensign has an article this month about the Word of Wisdom. Great stuff!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yesterday I taught the word of wisdom lesson in my ward (Tiger Mountain) in Issaquah, Washinton. It is always an emotional time because of peoples love affair with food and drink. I then called and talked to a nephew who is rehabbing after a massive heart attack. He told me he had lost 35lbs and his dr. is really proud of him. I questioned him as to how he had done it and he told me he was juicing and working out daily. On further questions he said “you have to log on to (greensmoothiegirl.com). I did and I like very much what found.

    I am a 70 year old male with type 2 diabetes and need to lose 35-40 lbs. I have always like the natural approach and at one time was a practicing vegan. My drs. told me I needed to eat more protein and less carbs, so I changed my eating habits(I should have known better) and gained weight and the amount of meds continued to go up. Guide me back to better health! Suggestions. Paul

    p.s. I have registered for you newsletter.

    1. Mariah says:

      I’d highly recommend reading Dr. Fuhrman’s “Eat To Live” book. Lot of great info on how to reverse disease and eliminate meds!

  8. What an interesting blog post! I once had someone tell me that she turned her back on people who advocated not eating meat, since Jesus ate meat and fish. I unsubscribed to her blog, since there was no point in arguing that no God, especially not a supposedly loving God, would design human bodies that would be damaged by the food He recommends.

    So the LDS view is far more consistent with my views, which is that the less animal produce we eat, the better. Through the ages people have intuitively known this. It’s only during the last 60 or so years that advertising has taken the place of intuition.

    I’ve often been accused of being a conspiracy theorist, but I do believe in the conspiring men – Big Food, Big Ag, Big Pharma, Big Tobacco, Big Business and Big Government. Americans are very quick to defend capitalism, but it’s become the most immoral, greedy, destructive force in history. Both man and the environment are being sacrificed on the altar of rampant capitalism. And saying that doesn’t make me a communist or a terrorist, as people would like to believe!

    Since when has “being too hard” been a reason not to do something? Have we become so soft that we will only attempt the easy? I’m reminded of the term “survival of the fittest”. If we, as individuals, don’t start facing up to the challenges and returning to the foods and substances that don’t harm us, we will be swept along with the tide and be destroyed.

  9. Anonymous says:

    If there is any scripture that confirms to me that there is divine revelation, this would be it. 200 years ago? How would they know what would happen?? neat!

    I just finished reading “In Defense of Food”, and I am halfway through “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” both by Michael Pollan. He actually buys a cow and follows it from birth to slaughter. The things that happen by “conspiring men” just makes me physically sick! I can definitely see that the people in charge of the food that goes to restaurants and grocery stores are not in business to help people buy good quality food. Anything that is cheaper and won’t actually KILL the animal instantly gets put to use. That is what I think evils and designs of conspiring men are. All the additives and chemicals that toxins put into food that humans are actually eating is actually to make us weak. We eat the bad food, our brains cannot think as clear, we are weak, we go to the doctor, we get on toxic medications, live a sad life, and then we die. I don’t care when I die truthfully, but while I’m alive I want to actually live!

    The nutritional philiosphies that defy the last two verses about eating meat sparingly are mostly the fad diets. Atkins, South Beach, probably more. A lot of strength training diets encourage a lot of protein, and most people find that in meat. I love your 12-step program because it shows that if we do follow this counsel, our bodies will be nourished and we will live a healthy lifestyle so we can do the things we enjoy.

    I don’t know about the complaint that eating whole foods is hard. I thought it was hard too at first. I had absolutely mind shutdown at the grocery store because I didn’t even know what to buy and came home with frozen pizzas (frozen pizzas of all things!*) to get us by until I could figure out what to make. Well, to me eating whole foods is easy if you prepare before. Put a pot of beans on while you clean the kitchen, slice up a bunch of veggies for a veggie tray every few days-it’s a lot simpler than I thought, and is so worth it!

  10. http:// says:

    Tiffany . . . love it, agree entirely.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I used to be as confused about the Word of Wisdom as Katie says she is. I think it comes from all the misinformation that is spread around. We try to fit the scriptures to our view of the world. I read “Eat to Live” and “The China Study” and things started falling in place for me. I believe the verses about eating meat sparingly is similar to having a spare tire. I don’t use my spare tire unless I have to. I shouldn’t eat flesh unless I have to. I think it telling that we are told in the Word of Wisdom, not once, not twice, but three times to only eat meat if we have to. I think God knew that we would have trouble with that concept, so he used repetition. And still we claim to be confused on the point.

  12. http:// says:

    And Paul, welcome! I have Greenhalghs in my genealogy, BTW. Get on board with 12 Steps–that’s how I guide you to excellent health. Hope you find the support and guidance you need on this site as well!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Today I had a green smoothie for breakfast, a sprout burger with greens on a flax seed/multigrain tortilla for lunch, and a handful of apricots and garden fresh tomatoes and a frozen yogurt for dinner. I do not generally eat much meat, but don’t feel like I’ve committed a crime if I do. I do drink/eat dairy occassionally, mainly yogurt.

    Each person must learn what works well for them. All or nothing thinking isn’t good. Being contentious about any topic isn’t helpful, especially when it deals with diet and nutrition. I have both a BS and MS in nutrition and dietetics, and people will tell me what is “healthy” to eat. I just listen, and gently express my point of view.

    As for the Word of Wisdom, it seems clear to me that “eat meat sparingly” means just that. The Seventh Day Adventists seem to have a good handle on that!

    The Word of Wisdom doesn’t spell out everything. We have our agency to make choices. We are not to be admonished in all things.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It is funny that the world will tell us something like the Adkins diet is good for us… It must be the anti Word of Wisdom since it restricts 99% of the food we are ‘supposed’ to eat… I think people mostly want to do/eat the right thing, but they will listen to anyone who will basically give them permission to depart from what they know they should do. I’m learning that people are looking for reasons and permission for certain things to be “OK” even when we know it is not good for them. Caffeine, meat, sweets, medicine… I’m guilty too, but learning 🙂 I’ve been drinking my green smoothies for about 1 1/2 weeks now. Feeling pretty good!

  15. alanna says:

    Love this! Thank you for writing about this. 🙂

  16. mike says:

    Take a trip to your local LDS Food Warehouse or Cannery. Read the labels. Then tell me why exactly you would take advice on what to eat from LDS, Inc. TOXIC poisons in a can. I especially like the “Cream of Mushroom Soup”. I’m not sure there are any mushrooms in it through, but it has plenty of Chemicals that form the “Cream”.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Of course, it never hurts to pray over our food…..I’m guessing that if we all do that!!

  18. Luz Irizarry says:

    Thank you sooooo very much for all of the information given to us, your public. I am always careful with what I consume but there are times that I slip because of a tempting dish or dessert. I love eating greens, raw. I do make smoothies but run out of ideas. I need to know how to mix the right greens together for optimum health, along with the best nuts, and fruits.
    I love the idea that the Bible has taught us, from eons ago, how to eat, rest, etc. but we are hardheaded people and have taken such treasured facts as null in our time.
    I am all for your Mormon wise teachings, though I am not a Mormon. I feel that we need to heed the warnings from these teachings and make our bodies as clean as possible from all pollution out there.
    Thank you for this post and for the ones dealing with nail polish. I want to learn how to make my own makeup out of wholesome foods, herbs, and fruits. Don’t know if you already have a post on this. Need to check.
    Thanks again Robyn for all of your wisdom acquired and especially for sharing it with all of us.

    Love you as a little sister.


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