By Jane Birch
What did Adam and Eve eat in the Garden of Eden?
Undoubtedly Adam and Eve ate an ideal diet for their condition in the Garden of Eden. We don’t know exactly what that diet was, but we do know that it was all plant foods. God said to Adam and Eve:
I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. (Genesis 1:29)
In the beginning, God gave our first parents a diet of plants. In the Bible account, consuming the flesh of animals is introduced only after the flood destroyed the vegetation on the earth. In Joseph Smith’s translation of Genesis, we learn that God tells Noah that now he may eat meat, but He emphasizes its use only in times of need:
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. . . .And surely, blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands. (JST Genesis 9:9, 11)
What type of plants did they eat?
The Hebrew word for herb means plants, and most plants bear seed (and all can produce offspring which is what this might mean), so this is not very helpful in narrowing down the type of plants. Fruit of the tree is more specific, but between plants bearing seed and the fruit of the tree, this pretty much includes most plants, especially because God specifically states they are given all that are “upon the face of all the earth.”
Some people claim that Adam and Eve ate a diet of mainly fruit with some herbs. Some further suppose these were all raw. I do not see this in the scriptural account. “Every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth,” would include fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains and other plant foods. One thing is for sure, while it is likely that Adam and Eve had the technology to cook food, they certainly did not have blenders or juicers in the Garden of Eden!
I can certainly imagine Adam and Eve eating raw plants directly from the ground, but I don’t believe they were limited to that. It is interesting that there is a small difference in the corresponding verse in the book of Abraham:
And the Gods said: Behold, we will give them every herb bearing seed that shall come upon the face of all the earth, and every tree which shall have fruit upon it; yea, the fruit of the tree yielding seed to them we will give it; it shall be for their meat. (Abraham 4:29)
Note the future tense, “that shall come upon the face of all the earth, and every tree which shall have fruit upon it.” This encourages me to think that Adam and Eve were also given the plants and fruits that would come in the future on the face of the earth. When the Lord sent them out of the Garden of Eden, He cursed the ground for their sake and sent them to “till the ground” and to “eat bread” until they died (Genesis 3:23, 19).
Even if we knew exactly what Adam and Eve ate in the Garden, we don’t live in the Garden and those exact foods are unlikely to be available to us now. When our parents left the Garden, they went from an immortal to a mortal state, I assume their bodies changed somehow. Our bodies are likewise not immortal. My conclusion is that we should look to the revelation God gave us for our day, D&C 89 (the Word of Wisdom), for how to eat, and not to the Garden of Eden.
The Millennium is a time when it appears that we will collectively return to eating more like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. I assume our bodies will experience some change, and we know our diet will. The scriptures tell us that even the animals will not eat each other:
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 65:25)
Is an all-fruit (fruitarian) diet superior?
I love fruit! But I personally do not feel the Lord intends for us to live on an all-fruit diet. First of all, this is contrary to the Word of Wisdom which states that ALL plants are ordained for our “constitution, nature, and use” and that grains are specifically ordained to be the “staff of life.” Second, there is no scientific evidence that an all-fruit diet is a superior diet and some disturbing evidence to suggest it can be risky. Certainly no human population has ever existed on an all-fruit diet.
Last, it is obvious that this is not a diet that could possibly provide for all the energy needs of all of God’s children. There are only a select few that can afford to eat this way. An all-fruit diet is likely not sustainable for the earth and certainly not affordable for the masses. The Lord ordained a diet that is sustainable and is affordable for all His children. Grains are the cheapest form of calories on the earth. They currently supply the bulk of all the calories for the human race . . . as they have always done throughout history. To think that we could do away with all these grains and all other plants except fruit and feed the entire world is clearly impossible.
This is not to say that during the Millennium or in the next world (when our bodies are changed) that we could not exist on all fruit, if we choose. It is also possible that in this future condition we will not have to eat any food at all. We don’t have that option now.
Is the Word of Wisdom a perfect diet like they had in the Garden of Eden?
The Word of Wisdom contains simple principles, rather than an exhaustive list of what to eat and not eat. Is a diet “adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints” (D&C 89:3). These facts suggest there is more counsel and wisdom the Lord can give us when we are prepared to receive it. I believe the Lord will provide more personal guidance to us as individuals through the Spirit as we follow the counsel in D&C 89 and keep all the commandments (see D&C 89:18–21).
See also: Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective by Jane Birch
Last updated: July 26, 2016