Politics, Christianity, and Hatred’s Role in Division

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Like the rest of you, I’m sure, I’ve spent the last few months contemplating politics. There’s been a lot to contemplate – a lot to chew on and a lot to digest. There have been all the regular issues with which to grapple, toppled by an overwhelming amount of “old” issues resurfacing. Maybe these issues never went away.

I have watched and listened to CNN, FOX, NBC, and NPR, NZ3, and read New York Times, New Zealand Herald, and various articles shared on social media. My Facebook “friends” are widespread: many from Texas – Hispanics, African Americans, and Caucasians, Oklahoma, Colorado, California, the Pacific Northwest; some Americans in Asia – Thailand, Nepal, India, South Korea; and quite a few non-Americans in New Zealand.

There are Christians making their voice heard on my social media feeds – whether American or not. Some of them are saying that God has prevailed in this election. Some of them are calling those Christians that voted for Trump hypocrites, saying that they have voted for someone who does not uphold Christian values. They are angry.

It doesn’t matter which side I fall under. I don’t want to talk politics. I’m sick of politics. Not because I’m tired of hearing about Donald Trump when I live halfway around the world and shouldn’t hear his name everywhere I go. Not because I’m tired of hearing about Hillary’s e-mails because I don’t hear any of that in New Zealand. Not even because I am completely worn-out by the media trying to influence voters both in the United States and overseas.

I am sick of politics because it is hateful.

We have morphed the political arena into a modern-day Roman Coliseum. We are the lions, tearing apart anyone we find with our vicious words: You have to vote Republican, You have to vote Democrat, Jesus hates you if you vote for _______, Obama is the anti-Christ, Trump will bring the Apocalypse, You are anti-women!, You hate gays!, You are racist!, You’re uneducated, If you vote for _______, you’re stupid, You’re a Muslim-hater.

We insult each other’s beliefs, intelligence, worth, rights, belittling each other’s God-given rights to think for ourselves. For many, this race for the presidency was very personal. Put yourself in the shoes of the immigrant, the oppressed. Put yourself in the shoes of the middle class worker. It’s not just Republicans versus Democrats. It’s Christians versus non-Christians, which is bad. It’s Christians versus Christians, which is – arguably – worse. I see you bickering, hatefully, on Facebook for the whole world to see.

I have argued against both Christians and non-Christians, and I am part of the problem. But, I will strive to be better. I am calling myself out. I am making a decision to call what is happening now for what it is – not what it is disguised as.

The world wants us divided – as Americans of whatever race, gender, religion. I see it on the news and I see it here. There are dark forces at play here in the world of Christianity, dividing us, as if we needed more cracks in the glass. These dark forces have names. Fear. Hatred. Contempt. Bitterness. Prejudice. Anger.

I was trying to look up some facts I saw on the Stephen Colbert Show when I saw that one of the suggested search terms was “The Divided States of America”. How sad is that?

The article I found was called “America really is more divided than it seems”, written on 16 July 2016 after the service in Dallas for the five officers killed last summer. It cites statistics from the Pew Research Center which show that 41% of Republican see Democrats’ beliefs being “a threat to the nation”. 45% of Democrats believe this about Republicans. It’s both a beautiful and a heart-breaking article, mixed with hope, but also with truth.

It is not okay that half of America is afraid of the other half. Have a loving, respectful conversation with your fellow man/woman. Beat down fear, hatred, and anger. Be a unifying agent in this transition. Be positive change because what will truly “make America great again” is not hatred. “Change we can believe in” should start with love. We are “stronger together”.

I’m an ex-patriate and will probably be thus for the rest of my life. But, I am still American, born and bred deep in the heart of Texas. I don’t know if unity is possible. I do, however, believe that it is needed and necessary for America to continue to thrive.

Fight for equality and fight for unity. Ironically, this sometimes means not fighting at all.

The Auckland Food Show 2016

My best friend Ellen and I went when I was in New Zealand last year to the most wonderful place of all – a place filled with coffee and snacks and meals and all foods, sweet and savoury, hot and cold, mild and spicy.

That place – that glorious, beautiful place – was called the Auckland Food Show.

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Now, I don’t put many things on my calendar. I am known to be slightly clueless by those that know me best. But this one has been on both of our calendars for a full year. You pay $28 NZD to get in, but once inside, there is more food than you could dream up – even in your most wildly hungry imagination!

I woke up earlier than usual and drove to Ellen’sOne of the beauties of the Food Show is that many of the stalls give you a free bag with your purchase (cute, cotton bags), and before long, we were sticking our brochures and goodies in the mandatory Proper’s Hand-Cooked Crisps bags – filled with the likes of Kumara Crisps, Cider Vinegar & Sea Salt Crisps, Smoked Paprika Crisps, and Parsnip Crisps. Mmmm. I love that they give you a free bag and a free chip clip when you buy at their stall. house. After traffic and finding a parking place, we walked in to the ASB Showgrounds by One Tree Hill, dazed and confused.

We NEEDED coffee.

coffexpspsOur fingers fumbled futilely through the pages of the Food Show Showguide, scouring from back to front to middle and sideways – all in the hopes of finding the word “coffee” jump out at us and direct us toward our only hope. What is food without being properly equipped to face the day, after all?

Luckily, between our four caffeine-deprived crossing eyes, we found the C’s on the Exhibitor Listings pages. And there was coffee. Coffex Coffee. We walked briskly through Hall 1, then Hall 2, past all of Hall 3, and we finally found the stand in the 4th and final hall. It was glorious. I’m sure that when Columbus caught sight of the New World, he felt the same way.

We worked backwards with our coffees in hand, eating and drinking nearly anything and everything set before us on stalls – and I took every brochure I could get my hands on. Ellen had to hold my coffee a few times as my hands got full and fuller.

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One of the beauties of the Food Show is that many of the stalls give you a free bag with your purchase (cute, cotton bags), and before long, we were sticking our brochures and goodies in the mandatory Proper’s Hand-Cooked Crisps bags – filled with the likes of Kumara Crisps, Cider Vinegar & Sea Salt Crisps, Smoked Paprika Crisps, and Parsnip Crisps. Mmmm. I love that they give you a free bag and a free chip clip when you buy at their stall.

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Most of the day was a blur (after all, we passed over 250 food stalls!), but I do have some favourites that I can remember distinctly. And so I give you my Top 10 Auckland Food Show Stalls of 2016, counting down to #1, plus some of our other favourites!

Number 10 – Little Island Coconut Creamery

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Coconut is ethereal to me – like something the angels make in Heaven’s Kitchen while Gordon Ramsay is in Hell’s Kitchen. It’s so nutty and creamy and yummy. So, obviously, this was the stall I was most looking forward to.

We both had the coffee coconut milk, as well as the hot chocolate they made with their coconut milk. Although, the coffee coconut milk was quite as good as I thought it would be, it was still very good. The hot chocolate, however, was smooth and beautiful. Ellen is not always a fan of coconut and she loved it, so obviously, it had to make the top 10.

I would drink Little Island’s Coconut Hot Chocolate any day.

Number 9 – Fresh As

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This stall was one of my favourites last year as well! They do these gourmet-looking desserts in little clear goblets for hundreds of people shoving in, while other stalls are far less impressive in presentation. It’s magnificent. Their products are, primarily, freeze-dried fruit, so today we enjoyed a yogurt topped with plum slices and two mandarin pieces. Last year, I remember having a raspberry powder in my dessert. I love the tart-ness in the berry products, and the mandarins tasted like candy to me. We did note that you need something creamy with them because you’re missing out on the juiciness of the fruit. They are also offering some spices as well that I didn’t notice last time.

The stall is beautifully decorated with colourful recipe cards hung up along the middle. Well done, Fresh As! You make me feel like a goddess.

Number 8 – Goodbuzz Beverage Co

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I don’t know about you, but I do love a good kombucha. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a non-alcoholic, fermented drink filled to the brim with probiotics (good bacterias).

The people at this booth were fun, energetic, and obviously passionate about their product – and for good reason. This was different from other kombucha (booch, as they called it) – not quite so tart and sour, maybe? I like it. I like it a lot.

I like even more that they had a Cold Brew Coffee Kombucha. Ellen liked even even more that they had Feijoa Booch. I also tried Jade Dew Booch, which was once just green tea. All fantastic. To top it all off, their graphics and marketing is off the charts as well. Sucked me in like an oyster.

Number 7 – Forty Thieves

We were soooo full by the time we got to the Forty Thieves stall in the “Made of Auckland” section in hall 3, but I am so glad we stopped for a couple samples! Ellen tried the Sunflower Cashew Spread with Chia Seeds while I marveled over the delectable taste of Cacao Hazelnut spread with toasted coconut. No refined sugar – just sweetened with honey. It’s like Nutella, but tastes even better to me. And it won’t make me sick! I will definitely be getting this in the future!

Number 6 – Hogarth Craft Chocolate

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Like just about every other girl in the entire universe, Ellen and I love chocolate. Thus, we were delighted to find so many chocolate stalls this year at the Food Show! Of all of them (and there were some yummmmmm chocolates), this was our favourite.

The Gianduia Dark Hazelnut Chocolate made me swoon the most. But I definitely swooned at every chocolate the Hogarth booth put into my eager hands.

Number 5 – Angel Food Dairy-Free Products

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For about a year now, I have really had to go lactose-free – which means very sad things for me. No Stoffer’s lasagna, no Pizza Hut, no freakin’ cheese enchiladas. Life is hard. What’s a girl like me to do?

Uh… go to the Food Show!!!

Angel Food has dairy-free alternatives for people like me, and they are all delicious – not like some of that junk that tries really hard to be an alternative (think SPAM for steak). They have both smoky and regular parmesan alternative (which is what I purchased today), a mozzarella alternative (which is served at Hell’s Pizza now), and a cheesey sauce. The people at this stand are so very nice and helpful. We’re so glad they figured out how to help us continue our love for Italian food.

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It’s quite hard to go wrong with sauer kraut (well, in my opinion, anyway – I crave it daily!). But I was extra excited about the six kraut products sold by Living Goodness. If I heard correctly, I think he said that they just started six months ago. They’re best seller in Sum Kum Kimchi, which was only a little bit spicy for me – which means anyone else can handle it. My favourite was the Super Superkraut with a mix of cabbage, kale, and seaweed. They have krauts (all with cabbage) with various mixes of beetroot, red cabbage, celeriac, carrots, juniper, caraway, and dill.

 

 

Number 3 – Coyo (Coconut Yogurt Alternative) www.coyo.com

Three on my list is Coyo, which is dairy-free, refined sugar-free yogurt and ice cream. I had the chocolate coconut yogurt alternative. It was so very creamy and delicious. THEN, I walked a bit further and saw that they had ICE CREAM! We had the pina colada flavor, which was epic. But, they also have tamarind & sticky date, acai & blueberry, mango & lime, raw chocolate, vanilla & nutmeg, as well as a natural flavor. I am looking forward to enjoying these products many, many times in my future in New Zealand.

Number 2- Pure Coco

Not only were the products here impressive, fairly traded, top quality, and delicious, but the people at the booth were some of my favourites at the entire Food Show. They were so knowledgeable and so passionate about the product and the work they do with a chief in Fiji villages. They poured Raw Cacao Nibs into my hands and it felt like it was my birthday. Then I got to try their Coconut Cacao Nibs – a combination of the raw and their Organic Coconut Nectar Syrup, I believe. Their primary product in their EVCPCO (organic extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil). They also have skin care, as well as coconut flour and coconut sugar (which Mark & I love). So excited about buying from Pure Coco in the future!

Number 1 – Crawlers

Oh. My. Goodness. I can not believe that this was my favourite stall of the day. Can you guess what it is by the name – Crawlers?

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These guys (Dan & Matt) decided to forego an education and, instead, have set up an amazing company focused on creepy-crawlies. Insects. Yes, bugs. At the booth today, particularly crickets.

I’m just going to take this excerpt from their website, www.crawlers.co.nz, and stick it here for your daily dose of bug information:

“Edible insects have higher protein levels than beef, more iron than kale, and comparable levels of B1 and B2 found in Spirulina.” Other surprising information on their site includes the fact that crickets contain 1.6x more calcium than milk. And can you believe that cricket flour has 10 times more B12 than salmon! What??!!?

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To say we were impressed and excited about this booth would be an understatement. We loved it so much that we brought cricket food home – Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies made with cricket flour (dairy and gluten free!) and cricket bliss balls. They have quite a cool line of candles and framed insects on their website as well.

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There were many, many amazing stalls today at 2016 Auckland Food Show. The SpiceBoyz Telza sauce was another of my favourites, and I love Soul Organics Cold-Pressed Juices (especially the carrot/apple/ginger/lime/turmeric one). The mild garlic seed mix from Something To Crow About was really impressive, and I definitely want that in my pantry at all times from now on. St. Andrew’s Limes is something I’ll be looking out for as well. And the people at the True Honey Co. were stellar. Super excited to try their Manuka! And it’s always exciting to see Trade Aid & Loving Earth. They are both some of our all-time favourite brands.

All in all, it was an amazing day with my best friend. And we all know that there is nothing that people bond over quite like food.