Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Food for thought


It probably goes without saying that when I took a business trip to North Carolina last month, the idea of vegetarian food was met with expressions like this :)

I don't like meat. I don't expect other people to become vegetarians, so I don't like getting harassed about what I do or do not eat.

I've found that vegans in particular are a rambunctious group when it comes to food. I don't do much dairy, but I like scrambled eggs and cheese enchiladas (not together.) I don't think I'm abusing bees if I eat honey.

So here's my modest proposal: I think we should all channel this energy and feelings we have about food into figuring out how to feed people who don't have enough of it.
In line at the grocery store tonight, I was presented with a sign that said $2 could feed a family of three people for a day in my county.

How is this possible? I can't imagine feeding myself on $2 a day, let alone any other people.

It's maddening. I have never understood why, in a country as rich as ours, we allow some people to go hungry. I've never understood why, as a global society, we have the ability to end poverty, but collectively choose not to.

Any suggestions?

6 comments:

Scarlet said...

When I think about the food thrown out at a restaurants and think of the families that go to bed hungry every night, it just doesn't seem right. I wish I had an answer. Maybe we could start something up.

b said...

I don't have a particular strategy to share, but I do have a general comment about consumption. My partner and I lived in Boston together, and now we live in Copenhagen, both of which are quite expensive cities (Copenhagen is something like the 7th most expensive city in the world). When we met, my partner was unconvinced about vegetarians/vegans (I'm on the borderline too, trying my best to be vegan in a very non-vegan country). He assumed we had no taste buds, were assholes, etc - not because he's an asshole, only because he'd never had a black bean enchilada or squash stew or lentil soup. He also quickly discovered I'm not a hater towards carnivores, which certainly helps - like you said, leave me alone, I'll leave you alone.

Anyway, he's basically a vegetarian now - we don't keep meat in the house as neither of us will prepare/eat it - and he is regularly surprised by how much money we save/how little we spend on groceries, even though we buy lots of produce compared to his old buying habits. I think the difference, as always, is about people's access to quality seasonal goods, and I know this critique comes up a lot for white vegans (of which I'm one), as it's supposedly a class thing instead of a radical choice anyone can make. I think perhaps the real question is, why are certain foods cheap and others not so much? What's going on with our ability to use local and season foods, no matter where we live, and what's going on with our inability to export things that keep well during transit? What does "cheap" mean to most people? I'd rather eat a salad than a bowl of rice, but that's all sorts of things about me: culture, tastebuds, etc.

I'm talking in circles...maybe someone else can pick this up and say more about it all. I'm constantly thinking about it, as you can probably tell ;) I'm just not sure what conclusions I have yet.

JLee said...

I think funding for more shelters where you don't have to stay, but can get a hot meal if you need it would be good. We have a huge homeless problem here in Dallas and I won't hesitate to buy someone food if they are truly hungry.

Darth Weasel said...

as soon as the bureaucracy gets involved, the money gets misused. it goes to things like salaries, PERS, pensions, insurance, advertising, etc., and stops going to the place intended. Legal ramifications take more money. and soon instead of 2 bucks going to food, 2 tenths of a cent go to food and 1.98 goes to other stuff. as long as government is involved, there will be no way to end hunger.

wow I am getting cynical in my old age

b said...

I do agree government programs only seem to go so far...what about expanding existing initiatives like Food Not Bombs, people in the community feeding other people? Where I'm from, churches seem to run the food banks, and I'm not particularly excited about religion being involved in this any more than The Man, but at least they organize shit, right?

Green tea said...

We are lucky in our area to have several food shelves.
I volunteer at our local shelf and I see many business's helping out.
We get a lot of extra food from places grocery stores and co-ops.
Mpls also has Mary Jo Copeland and her Sharing and Caring Hands.
She is a quirky lady but I don't know what the homeless in our area would do without her.
http://www.sharingandcaringhands.org/maryjo.htm