A few weeks ago a friend told me a story about having a craving for a Cheez Whiz sandwich.  He went to the fridge found the jar, made and ate the sandwich. Later he asked his wife how long she thought the jar had been sitting in the fridge.  He checked the label and it said; Best before May 2009.  It was 4 1/2 years old, – still looked perfect and tasted delicious.  How does a jar of cheese stay fresh for 4 1/2 years?  I buy a block of cheddar and in a week it is so moldy I have to throw it out.  After only a few seconds online I discovered a story in a National Post article about Dean Southworth.  He worked for Kraft and had developed Cheez Whiz for them in the 1950’s.  Now retired and living in Florida he bought himself a jar and made a sandwich. Unlike my friend he however almost gagged and said the stuff tasted like axle grease.  I guess my friend has a poorly developed palate when it comes to fine cheeses.  He contacted Kraft and demanded to know what they had done to his cheese.  Long story short, they had taken a key ingredient out of Cheez Whiz… it no longer contains…wait for it… it no longer contains cheese.  Another friend that works for Safeway told me they don’t even refrigerate the stuff at the store and it will sometimes sit in the warehouse for 6 months before it even goes on the shelf.  Question: If you take the cheese out of Cheez Whiz, what do you have left?  … just whiz!

The bible mentions food, diet, farming and farming practices hundreds of times in scripture. Why?  Because God created the human body and he knows exactly how best to feed it. Unfortunately most Christians have discarded the dietary teachings of the Old Testament claiming that they were abolished in the New Testament.  I would not disagree that we not bound by Jewish dietary law, but for the life of me I do not see how Jesus dying on the cross makes pork or shellfish somehow healthy.  He also abolished the 10 Commandments, but last time I checked He still frowns on murder and adultery.

I am one of the few preachers today that preachers on diet, exercise, farming practices, the food supply etc.  I actually see them as moral issues. When was the last time you heard some preach about the sin of gluttony?  We go on and on about drugs, drinking, smoking, sexuality etc. but no one will touch gluttony with a 10 foot pole… I can think of a great joke here, but it would come across as just plain mean. Frankly, I am less concerned about the sin than I am about the consequences.  Heart disease, diabetes, bad backs and joints are just a few of the eventualities of obesity.  We often pray for people for healing for things that I know could be resolved by diet and exercise.  Gluttony was considered one of the 7 deadly sins in the middle ages and is no less deadly today.

But this is only half the picture.  I have become increasingly alarmed by what is happening to our food supply.  Even if you try to eat healthy, most of the time you don’t even know what you are eating.  Many things on the shelves no longer resemble food.  Who would have thought  that Cheez Whiz wasn’t actually made out of cheese?   The grocery store shelves are literally stacked from one end to the other with processed type foods.  Any nutritional value is long gone and they are loaded instead with salts, sugars and scary sounding preservatives like acesulfame-K, butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydrozyttoluene, potassium bromate, sodium sulfite, sodium dioxide and the list goes on and on. None of these ingredients are foods and most are either poisonous or carcinogenic. They are in almost every packaged food on the shelf. Then there are the hydrogenated vegetable oils which again are in almost everything which, like Cheez Whiz, are basically vegetable based plastics. This is one of the reasons why they do not spoil in the cupboard.  I also have a 4 1/2 year old jar of axle grease in the garage that has not gone bad either, but I would never spread it on a piece of bread (or bread-like slice).

In a recent sermon on our Christian responsibility to care of our environment WATCH HERE I took a swipe at the biotech industry and their GMO (genetically modified organisms) crops.  Specifically I referred to Monsanto’s Roundup Ready canola. It is a transgenically engineered crop that has had a gene from a bacteria inserted into it so as to make it resistant to the non-selective herbicide Round Up (also made by Monsanto). My point was that man has crossed over a line into the realm of playing God.  Bio-tech companies are creating new forms of life that do not exist in nature.

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth” (Gen 1:11 ). God’s system of re-creation to continually replenish the earth revolves around the ingenious law of sowing and reaping. God created all the species necessary for man to live on the earth and every one of them reproduces after its kind… until recently when man decided he could improve on God’s design. Man just does not have a very good track record when it comes to messing with nature. We have been destroying the rain forest, the ozone layer, possibly the polar ice caps (depending on what you think about global warming), polluting the rivers and streams. It is hard to see how when it comes to nature we are making real improvement.  God said that on the Day of Judgment He “should destroy those who destroy the earth.”  (Rev 11:18) I do not think we should be taking this warning lightly. We really have no idea how GMOs will alter the food supply. The majority of canola (where we get our cooking oil and margarine) in Canada is GM. We also do not know what eating transgentics will do to our health or if it will affect our own DNA.

After the sermon aired I got a slew of mail from farmers and agricultural people telling me that I had no business using the pulpit to talk about such matters. They told me to stick to the gospel and theology and  leave agriculture to the professionals and farmers who feed the world. They were mostly polite, but clearly dismissive that I was ignorant and uninformed on the subject. Most people do not realize that I am an Agriculture grad from the University of Manitoba. I was also a personal acquaintance of the late Baldur Stefansson who developed the low erucic acid rapeseed that became canola. I spent many years in the industry as both a producer and grain buyer. Even though I am no longer involved in the agricultural industry I have followed the progression of the Ag and Bio-tech industries and have both written and spoken about it for years. I left the Ag industry years ago because I felt producers were going to become slaves to growing powerful Agri-biz machine. I feel my fears are being realized today. I do not own their stocks out of principle, and as a health conscious (to a bit of an extreme) individual I just want to know what is in my food before I eat it. As mentioned earlier I believe what many of us eat is actually killing us. In our home we TRY to eat organic, fresh and natural. It is very difficult in that things are omitted on the labels. The fact that these bio-genetic giants refuse to be forthcoming is my bone of contention. Monsanto says right on their website that they oppose the labeling of GMO foods. They are also on record of spending multiple millions of dollars to oppose it. If they are proud of their accomplishments then why do they go to so much trouble to hide them?

If the science of all this is not of interest to you skip this paragraph.

GMO proponents argue that once canola is processed into the oil it no longer retains the GM traits of the modified canola. This is not true and and I got accused of misleading my listeners when I said that our margarine was GM. If anyone is guilty of misleading the public, it is them not me. I have read several peer reviewed studies on the subject. The myth of DNA-free GM oil continues to persist even though the ability to detect the DNA in the oil has been around since 2010. I am aware that there many researchers that would not support that claim, but there are others that have proven exactly the opposite. One example of several is “Determination of DNA Traces in Rapeseed Oil” by Hellebrand, Nagy and Mörsel.  They concluded that “DNA fragments were successfully identified in samples of cold press oil, as well as in the samples of the refined oil.” Even if the foreign DNA was not detectable within the canola oil it does not change the fact that it was still produced by a trans-genetically modified organism. In my sermon I was careful not to use scare tactics such as citing the (largely dismissed) Seralini study where rats feed GM corn died cancerous deaths. Nevertheless, the fact that such possibilities could exist should at least give us pause. That GM foods are not required to be labeled also tells me that the biotech lobby has way too much influence. I would love to think that the motivation behind this is the altruistic desire to feed the world, but in reality I know it is the billions of dollars the biotech industry makes by manipulating nature. This kind of money can buy any research it wants… and any government for that matter.  One of the other mis-truths of the biotech industry has been that inserting new genetic material into a plant is really no different than this process of plant selection which plant breeders have been doing almost since the beginning of agriculture. Not so. Transgenics cannot happen in nature.  Some are now saying mutated plant genes are equivalent to transgenics, but again, the gene is still from that plant, not from another species! I am concerned in my heart that genetic engineering (including cloning) will end up being a catastrophic mistake.

To me what is going on with the food supply is a spiritual and moral issue that I believe is well within my scope to talk about.  I guess my biggest concern about my sermon that day was for the farmers who have little choice but to move forward with the latest technological advancements. I could see how my words could have been offensive to them. They are just doing their job and trying to feed the world and GM crops are both increasing the food supply and their ability to make money. But I feel even worse that they are being held hostage to a growing multi-national bio-tech industry that MAY not have honorable intentions.  Gee whiz… we live in such strange days.


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19 Responses to GEE WHIZ

  1. Cindy Hingley says:

    You preach it brother! My food was killing me and it is killing a whole generation before their time. God has given me the grace of a second chance and until my appointed time, I will do every thing in my power to expose this evil. God’s ways are always better than man’s. God bless you and give you strength to carry on.

  2. Jon Fehr says:

    I wholeheartedly agree.Its very alarming to me the direction things are heading. Personally I think it’s ignorant to say it’s not moral issue. Poisoning our children with toxic food,medicine and media amoral. But just my opinion and you know what they say about opinions.

  3. Jessica Kiunga says:

    I watch your show every week and I love it when you preach about food. The immoral way we treat our planet and disregard God in how we eat and produce food is catching up with us, big time! People are dying because of our diet. If that’s not worth talking about, what is? I love that Pastor Mark speaks the truth, even if it offends. That’s exactly what Jesus did, and people hated him for it. But it’s the truth that allows us to live. People who are morbidly obese and sick are not living the life God intended for them. Amen to brother Hughes for including the most intimate thing we do – eating – among his sermons. Our bodies are supposed to be the dwelling place of the Lord. We should take as good of care of our bodies as the Old Testament Jews took care of their temple. I should shut up now.

  4. Evelyn Bennett says:

    This is where computer technology comes in.
    Become a spammer. Attack those who think it is ethically sound to force us into a slow unhealthy death. The poor people percentage is huge. Guess who they test these chemicals on first those people who cannot financially defend ourselves. In the courts and in our own stomachs. Think about it.

  5. Ingrid Stoetzel says:

    So often we are asked to pray for someone’s healing when it’s a well-known fact the person refuses to eat properly. I really struggle with this. Thank you for preaching this!

  6. Cal Penner says:

    Hi Pastor Mark , I was at church for this sermon about the genetically mod foods. Just was wondering , how many farmers did you consult while preparing for this. As a farmer myself, I disagreed with most of your take on this, except about the large corp. food giants controlling the industry. That’s was true. But i’m always amazed how Christians today find it all so easy to complain about food instead of giving thanks to God for it. Where is your sermon on being thankful for God meeting our basic needs, food being one the most important. Remember that it is in the blessing of the food which makes it good for us, not where it came from , or who prepared it. Anyway , I just had to get this off my chest. God bless. Farmer Cal.

  7. Mark Hughes says:

    Thanks for your thoughts Cal. I feel worse for the farmer than anyone else. I believe they are being pulled into a technological vortex and it is very hard to know what to do.

    I have a friend who is one of the bigger farmers in Illinois. They farm 12,000 acres of GMO soybeans and corn… nothing else. His sons are highly advanced agronomists and his daughter is a doctor who specializes in how food affects the health of the human body. Together they have decided that they may actually be harming the health of the very people they feed with the GMO crops. Secondly, they no longer believe that GMO crops use less pesticides. After years of spraying Roundup on their crops their fields have now developed super weeds that are resistant to the herbicide and they now require more pesticides than before.

    Beginning this spring they are going to go to 100% non-GMO crops. They have done their homework as to how in Europe where GMO crops are banned, the yield increases are actually outstripping those in North America where we have become dependent on GMO crop varieties. There are now developing markets that offer a premium for non-GMO grain. They pay a premium. My friend feels if they can sell there crops that way they will actually increase their profits. BTW this farmer is a Christian who feels the same way as I do that we may be playing God by creating species that God himself did not create.

    I really do appreciate comments from farmers on this subject. I am however surprised how many do not think I do my research and just make things up when I preach. I guess it does sort of sound that way when I talk. Oh well.

    I wish you a great crop this year and do thank God for food you and your fellow farmers put on my table.

  8. carmen says:

    Christians today don’t complain about food that we eat…it so happens that christians are “concern” about what we put in our bodies. some or most if not all. We should include Pastor Mark Hughes in our prayers every meal after thanking God for he is most concern Pastor I know and heard of preaching about the right way to eat and feed our body. Literally! Has anyone of us prayed for Pastor Mark Hughes and thanked God for his preaching? I hope we do. We should think that because of his teaching, our eyes are opened to view the importance of eating the right food biblically.

  9. carmen says:

    Christians today don’t complain about food that we eat…it so happens that christians are “concern” about what we put in our bodies. some or most if not all. We should include Pastor Mark Hughes in our prayers every meal after thanking God for he is most concerned Pastor I know and heard of preaching about the right way to eat and feed our body. Literally! Has anyone of us prayed for Pastor Mark Hughes and thanked God for his preaching? I hope we do. We should think that because of his teaching, our eyes are opened to view the importance of eating the right food biblically.

  10. Elaine Fifield says:

    Kudos to you Pastor Mark! In my thirty-two years as a Christian I have NEVER heard anyone preach about our diet! For years I have been disgusted by the sin of gluttony that is prevalent in the church today. When I see Christian’s ‘over-piling’ their plates at functions it just makes me want to weep. I am thrilled to hear you preach on this topic because we need to be reminded that our bodies are a gift from God and that we are to take care of them as vessels of the Holy Spirit. (And I also concur with what you say about people asking God to heal them of medical conditions that could be remedied with a little self-discipline!)

    Recently, I have been learning a lot about the food industry – genetically modified crops, etc. and the appalling treatment of animals (and workers). It is shameful and as you say, motivated purely by greed and run by an oligarchy of self-interested individuals. Consequently, I have adopted a vegan diet because I cannot in all conscience consume animal products that I know have come from animals who have been cruelly treated. Even the chickens who lay the eggs and the cows who give the milk are shamefully mistreated and ‘used’ to the point of collapse and then just discarded like an old shoe!I am still investigating some local farms to see if I can obtain eggs and butter from them.

    All of that, to say a BIG THANK YOU for having the courage and commitment to speak to God’s people about these things. I am greatly encouraged.

  11. Dianne Carlson says:

    Just to encourage you we love watching your program every Sunday AM and enjoy how God is revealing His truth more and more every day. It is not popular to be different but like you say God knows best after all He is our Creator. Hats off to the truth. Jesus is the way the truth and the life.

  12. Darel says:

    My wife and I are ‘health fanatics’ regarding diet and exercise and would be in very much agreement with what you are preaching.
    But my beef (no pun intended) is with your handling of the scripture. Reading your preconceived ideas into passages is unacceptable. It takes away from the truth you may be stating instead of backing it up. If I can’t trust your exegesis regarding health why should I trust any thing else you feed me from scripture.
    IE The specialness of the fatted calf, does not prove that they seldom ate meat. As a self proclaimed ag. expert you have to know that in that arid country there were few fatted calves. Sheep were a mainstay of their meat diet. Fatted calf would be a delicacy. And that it was a treat does not prove that they seldom ate meat.
    The blanket of food dropped down to Peter was a object lesson regarding the Gentiles, but that does not negate the fact that he was told to eat what was there.
    By all means preach on health. But please use the Bible as it stands.

    • Mark Hughes says:

      I would not be so quick to criticize my exegesis if I were you. It is Peter’s vision that has been subject to bad hermeneutics for centuries. No doctrine or teaching should be regarded with only a single reference. Scripture repeatedly states that through “two or three witnesses” a thing must be established. Peter’s vision of the unclean foods is the lone and only reference in the entire bible that might lead one to conclude that eating those foods was now permitted. Although we are told not to judge others by what they eat (and arguably, to not put prohibitions on others), we do not see another passage claiming it is an open buffet on scavengers. There is not a single reference of a Jew or Christian eating pork in the New or Old Testament. I cannot see how Jesus dying on the cross somehow makes squid or snails healthy to eat. I also do not claim that we are bound to a biblical dietary ‘law’, but to teach that these foods are no longer unclean… that is the bad exegesis.

  13. Darel says:

    Acts 10:12 (NASB) and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air.
    I guess my version forgot to mention the squid and snails. I’m certainly with you there. I avoid those, as well as the “tablespoon of snot”.
    I can’t even find where they were included in the menu of Nebuchadnezzar, as you alluded. But Daniel wouldn’t have had to worry about that with his choosing of veggies and water. And after 10 days he was “fatter” than the others. Unusual for veggies and water. But then you alluded to him being 10 times better than the others. Ah, but that was in “wisdom and understanding”. So if I go Vegan I’ll not only be fatter, but 10 times as smart as those around me.
    You indicated that the poor people coming off the Ark, had to start eating meat because of the lack of fruits and veggies. And thus they could no longer anticipate the exceptional life span of those that had gone before. So I assume that the flocks that Abel tended were simply for sacrifice and to create fertilizer for Cain’s gardens.
    Isn’t it wonderful how we can make the scriptures back up our favorite topics.
    I’m with you on the GMO, and the processed foods. And bacon is disgusting. I would add in the breads from today’s wheat, and many other health hazards in the non-foods of today. Preach it brother. And may the Bible be true in all that it affirms. 🙂

  14. Christie Braun says:

    Eat, Eat not. Love one Another.

  15. Patricia Stephen says:

    I truly feel that not only are genetically alter crops bad for us but I believe they are also what is responsible for the decline of the honey bee population. In short the chemicals used to alter these seeds is ending up in the pollen, and it is killing our bees!

  16. Jed says:

    Mark you say “Jesus did away with the ten commandments” lol..where do you read that..Jesus said in Matthew 5 “Heaven and earth will pass away but not one thing will be changed in the law until all is fulfilled”
    Well obviously He is talking about His secondcoming, because Heaven and earth are still here, so obviously all has NOT been fulfilled, so the God’s law the Ten commandments is still in effect. God wrote these with His own finger on tablets of stone, to indicate permanency..and Malachi 3 says “I am God I change not”

  17. Rose says:

    I have a friend who is a hunter and a trapper. Her daughter can’t eat any processed foods (especially meats) but we all enjoy eating deer and even bear after hunting season. It’s all good. And like A&W burgers, the wild game is free of injected hormones, steroids and antibiotics. And we can enjoy these healthy foods.

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