Monday, May 19, 2008

Food Glorious Food

Since midnight on Saturday, I have gone without food--making it about 36 hours since I have eaten--one day and a half.** (The reason, dear reader, with which I will not greatly trouble you with details, has to do with a medical procedure that requires fasting.)

I am light-headed and a bit achy. And I know as soon as the medical test is over, I can eat. Not so with far too many people in the world. On Friday, I read a
heart rending story in the New York Times about Ali, a mother of five, who has not eaten for 7 days. SEVEN DAYS. She is weak, and likely near death. Why, you ask? She has the misfortune to live in a country that is once again dissolving into war--Somalia. One of the awful consequences of war in that war-torn country is famine. There are other factors that contribute to famine, but war exacerbates them.

I heard an NPR story the other day that used a phrase that caught my imagination--we have turned food into a commodity. In other words, instead of thinking of food as a right for all people, we have made it something to be bought and sold, to be subject to market forces, to be altered to what is more saleable.

There is huge truth in that. We all bemoan tasteless tomatoes and strawberries--why are they like that? So they ship well, and look nice so people will buy them. Produce that doesn't look nice doesn't get sold--never mind that it has no taste. Food as commodity.

The Sunday New York Times had this
astonishing story: about food waste. Americans waste 27% of food available for consumption. More than one fourth of food available to eat is THROWN AWAY. How can that be? Part of it is food that didn't sell in grocery stores because it didn't "look nice."

So, I will soon be able to eat a meal. I will survive my temporary fasting. Millions around the world do not have the luxury I have.

**First part of this blog written just before noon on Monday.
POST-SCRIPT: medical test all over; all is fine. I have broken my fast, and millions around the world have not.


JeanMac said...

A very touching post - and glad all is well.

LauraHinNJ said...

Glad to hear you're done with that.


Have you read any of Michael Pollen's books? I'm slowly reading his "Omnivore's Dilema" - a great book that I wish I could give the proper attention to, but so far it's opened my eyes quite a bit about some of these very topics.

I notice tonight, too that you're reading Khaled Hosseini's latest - how do you like it? I loved the Kite Runner so much that anything else almost can't compare, but found it enjoyable and I liked the feminine perspective.

Anonymous said...

Glad to know your fast was temporary. It is shocking the waste that is seen in America. When we ate at a buffet in Reno on Thanksgiving -- I found it so appalling that it tainted my evening. The stories of famine are heartrending.

NCmountainwoman said...

We should all pause every single morning to think of the hungry of the world. Thanks for helping us do that.

Ruth said...

Glad your test is done. Fasting is not a bad thing to do once in a while. It does make one more introspective for sure. The issues regarding increasing prices for grains are going to be more in the forefront economically and politically. Five pounds of flour have gone from $3.29 to $5.79 in 2 months here. I can afford it, but those in poorer nations cannot. Crops grown for fuel bring another level to the commodity debate.

Anvilcloud said...

That's a pretty long fast. I'm sure you're happy that it's over.

KGMom said...

To Jean, NCMountain woman, and AC--thanks for your concern.

To LauraH--I haven't read Michael Pollen--I will look him up. As for A Thousand Splendid Suns--ahh, I am not into it too much yet. On ch. 10--and I am not enjoying as much, maybe for reasons you identified.

To Liza--I almost can't stand looking at buffets. I mutter under my breath (to the morbidly obese person going back for thirds) you don't need that food.

To Ruth--I so agree with you on crops grown for fuel. That's obscene--especially when we have not been urged by gov. officials to conserve. It's spend, spend, drive, drive, consume, consume. We will have much to reckon for on any judgment day.

possumlady said...

Glad that your tests all went well.

Yes, good things to think about. I know I waste food. I don't mean to but I do. I wonder if a study has been done to see if single people waste more food then couples or families? I do all my grocery shopping and have somewhat of an idea of what I'm going to made in the next week. Then, something comes up, either a dinner invitation, long hours at work and when I do get home am too exhausted to cook dinner at 9 or 9:30. So much going on keeping myself afloat at work, my home, my yard and my animals. A few weeks later I find a perishable, or two or three in the fridge that has spoiled still neatly enclosed in its original package. It makes me sick to throw it out but I do.

Beverly said...

Good post. I remember when I visited Haiti in 2002 after having been back in the States for 30 years, I sat down to dinner in a Haitian home. What a sumptuous feast they served. I knew they had no doubt gone without to feed us. I felt ashamed.

We can look at all the pictures and read all the descriptions of hunger, but until one has been there and witnessed it first hand, it is easy to look the other way. Shame on us.

dguzman said...

I'm glad your tests are done and you're able to eat again. Great post.

Beth said...

Glad it all turned out well for you--I agree that we should all remember to recognize and realize hunger. I've been reading your blog for many months now but have never commented--always enjoy it though--thanks for commenting on mine, it's nice to meet you!

KGMom said...

Possumlady--I didn't intend to induce any guilt trips. One year, I made a new year's resolution to save a quarter everytime I threw away food. Hmm--didn't last long, but it made me aware of wastage. I now eat most leftovers for lunch.

Beverly--nothing like a visit to some really poor place in the world to open one's eyes to our lifestyle.

Delia--thanks. I just realized, I hadn't been by your place for a bit--you have been busy posting!

Beth--welcome, officially. Hope you don't mind--I added you on my blog links.

Mauigirl said...

I'm glad all went well with your test. Great post, making us all think about all those who don't have the luxury of breaking their fasts.