On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your energy level right now? Are you feeling lively and excited, or does a quick nap sound pretty good? Circle the number below that best describes how you feel.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
very tired feeling great!
Plants = Food = Energy
If you are feeling great, that’s terrific! You might have had something to eat in the last hour or so. But if you are feeling a little sleepy, maybe it’s time for a healthy snack. The food you eat gives you the energy to do things like reading, riding a bike, or playing games with your family. But did you know that some of the best foods for your body come from plants?
Take that peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich you may have had for lunch. The bread comes from plants that grow the wheat grain, which is ground into flour. The peanuts for the peanut butter come from peanut plants. And the grapes in your jelly grow on vines. (If you’re more of a strawberry jam fan, you probably know those berries grow on plants too!)
In fact, almost all of the foods we eat can be traced back to plants of some kind—even hamburgers and turkey sandwiches. The meat we eat comes from animals, but guess what? Those animals eat lots and lots of plants!
Plants in the Bible
The Bible mentions about 130 different kinds of plants, including willow trees, mint, garlic, beans, and mustard plants. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the plants people used for food and more.
In Bible times, wheat was grown and harvested in large fields much like it is today. Grains of wheat are hard and can be stored for a long time. Then and now, wheat was ground into flour and used for baking bread. Remember the story of Joseph? He stored grain for the people in Egypt so they could eat bread, even during the years of drought. Read about it in Genesis 41:46-54.
Grapes grow in bunches on vines planted in fields called vineyards. Grapes were very popular in Bible times and were used in many ways: people ate them fresh, dried them into raisins, or turned them into wine. At a wedding in Cana, Jesus showed his power by turning water into wine! You can read about it in John 2:1-12.
Figs grow on trees with wide trunks and thick branches. They are sweet fruits with lots of small seeds on the inside. (Try them sometime!) Figs are eaten fresh or dried and baked into delicious fig cakes. In Matthew 21:18-22, Jesus used a fig tree to teach his disciples an important lesson.
Dates grow on a type of palm tree called the date palm. These trees bear fruit best in very hot weather. Dates are sweet and can be easily dried for quick snacks. The palm branches that the people of Israel waved and placed on the ground as Jesus traveled to Jerusalem were probably from the date palms in the area. To read that story, see John 12:12-15.
Olive trees were very useful in Bible times—and they still are today. These trees produce olive fruits toward the end of summer. They are harvested as green (unripe) olives or black (ripe) olives. Most of the olives were made into olive oil that was used for cooking and other purposes. In Bible times people poured oil on their hair and skin to protect it from the dry climate, and they used it to keep their lamps burning brightly. No wonder olive oil was very valuable!
Name That Plant
Read the phrases below. Then unscramble the words in the Scrambled Word Bank below to fill in the blanks. Use the Scripture references for clues.
Scrambled Word Bank
1. Jesus said, “See how the ______________ of the field grow.” (Matthew 6:28) What plant was he talking about?
2. Rahab hid two Israelite spies under this plant. (Joshua 2:6) ________________
3. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a ____________________ seed.” What type of seed was Jesus talking about? (Matthew 13:31)
4. Abigail prepared 100 cakes of ________________ and 200 cakes of _________________ to give to David. (1 Samuel 25:18)
5. Zacchaeus climbed a ___________________________ fig tree to see Jesus better as he passed by.
1. lilies; 2. flax; 3. mustard; 4. raisins, figs; 5. sycamore
Travelin’ Trail Mix
Make this healthy and delicious snack to take with you to school or on a car trip. Nearly all of the ingredients come from plants found in the Bible!
You’ll need ½ cup of each of these ingredients:
- dried dates, chopped
- dried figs, chopped
- shelled pistachio nuts
- chocolate chips or M&Ms (optional)
Combine all of these ingredients and place the mixture in an airtight container or plastic baggie. Enjoy when you need a good energy boost!
Enjoyed this article?
Don’t miss this week’s must-read articles:
- Tell A Better Story
- ‘Rebirth’ for a Wisconsin Church
- Book review: A Church Called Tov, by Laura Barringer and Scot McKnight