The Challenges of a First Century Diet

There are challenges to keeping a first century diet. The climate of Pagosa Springs is quite a bit different than that of the Mediterranean and the Holy Land. I live at an altitude of some 7,600 feet above sea level. We average around 130 inches of snow in the winter and the January temperatures can be punishing. I would like to eat only foods grown locally, but, believe it or not, there are no olive trees in this part of Colorado. Nor are there fig trees or date palms. And I have yet to see a single lentil bush. I will buy these and other Mediterranean foods at the local market or order them online. I can purchase many fruits and vegetables at the local farmers’ market. Cucumbers, onions and garlic were staples. Those are easy. Some foods common in the first century are not so readily available. Citrons were the only citrus fruit available at the time of Jesus. Unless I can find fresh citrons, I will use lemons instead.

Another challenge: as I wrote last time, I am an Episcopal priest. I go to church potlucks. Church members invite me to dinner. Meetings are held in local restaurants. Women’s groups feed me cookies. These are good things in my opinion and my waist line testifies to that truth. In addition, coffee is an important part of my ministry. Should I cheat occasionally and eat a little 21st century Mexican food or drink a latte for the sake of the gospel? A local restaurant makes wonderful green chili buffalo burgers. Another serves sautéed shrimp on a bed of creamy grits. These wonderful delicacies were on no one’s first century Holy Land menu. Neither were salmon tacos or sushi rolls. This is going to be hard, especially the coffee. I have already given up diet Coke. That was hard enough. But I am a bit of an espresso connoisseur and I love my morning double shot.

My redemption may be pomegranate juice. I am fond of bottled pomegranate juice. Unsweetened pomegranate juice is one pre-packaged beverage that I will use. I know for a fact that Jesus and his followers steered clear of high fructose corn syrup for many centuries, so no sweetened juices.

This is the road over the Red Mountain Pass, several hours from where we live.  Notice the absence of date palms

This is the road to Ouray. Notice the absence of date palms

I bought a few groceries last night for my first century pantry:

• Melons
• Tahini (sesame seed paste)
• Almonds
• Halawi dates
• Split peas
• Wheat berries
• Lentils
• #3 bulgar
• Pearled barley
• Chick pea flour

I already have chickpeas, onions, garlic, olives, whole grains for bread, dried apricots and yogurt. These will get me started.


6 Responses to “The Challenges of a First Century Diet”

  1. Susan Barwick Says:

    What a gorgeous picture! It’s beautiful even without date palms.

    Maybe a little bit of sugar in the morning (via the pomegranate juice)
    will help make up for the lack of caffiene (a little).

    No ice cream in the first century either, right?

  2. Sandy Gabel Says:

    It occurred to me that beside just wanting to see your shopping list of foods…I am going to need some recipes of what you do with that list to make something tasty!

    Someone told me that if you just smell the coffee, it can do as much as drinking the coffee for the jolt we need! Kind of an aromatherapy fix.

  3. Nancy Williams Says:

    sounds yummy!! NO REALLY!! eeeeww I don’t know..better you than I..I wish you great success and will pray fervently for you. I was going to say something french, but I don’t know how to spell it and neither does spell here’s to good eat’en. How’s that for a Texas salute?

  4. Linda Balzersen Says:

    This is really quite wonderful………I don’t know anybody who has thought of this. I’m really interested in the recipes and meal plans, but I don’t promise to stay on a steady diet of 1st Century food, mainly because I would have to cook a separate meal for my husband to eat every day, and that’s way too much work! Amazing to me how much my regular diet is like this during the day already. I’m intrigued. Keep it coming……….Blessings, Linda B in Rockwall

  5. Karen Says:

    Thank you for this wonderful blog! I am preparing a lesson for Sunday school on the topic of “What did Jesus eat?” and your blog is a wonderful resource! Thank you so much. Not only is it informative, it is interesting and engaging. I’m sure your congregation enjoyed hearing about your first century diet. I think I am going to have to order your book for our church library (Christ Church Bells Corners in Ottawa).

    • dougneel Says:

      Thank you and I hope you can order the book. It would also help you with your class. Please let me know how your class responds.

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