Sunday, May 18, 2008

Waste not...?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the food crisis. I went home a few weeks ago, and, as usual, my family’s food consumption and food waste appalled me, but this time I had Haitians in mind—eating dirt, not being able to afford rice when just three decades ago they were rice producers themselves. And then there was my family, throwing rice away because they don’t want to eat leftovers and so food goes bad constantly.

When I go to a restaurant I’ve stopped letting any food go to waste—to-go boxes are in vogue for me.

I try to buy all my food locally and just avoid the big brands altogether in my, perhaps naïve, hope that I am not supporting the forces that have brought the food crisis to light.

But what can we do about this? That always seems to be the unanswerable question. There are forces larger than us that we have no control over, and we end up being frustrated and disillusioned. This is particularly problematic for those of us who live in states where, no matter how many letters we send to our representatives and senators, they just don’s listen and send back generic letters about how they’re doing the right thing and other such nonsense.

The conclusion I’ve reached is that all we can do is live our lives the best we can, keep writing letters and signing petitions and attending town hall meetings, and make changes to our lifestyles that may not have a direct impact on the state of the world, but that may influence others to change. There’s no point in feeling powerless and defeated—life is still beautiful. We just have to adapt. You know, hang your clothes out to dry instead of using the dryer. Take fewer, shorter showers (trust me, even working on a goat farm I only need to take, at most, two showers a week—and that’s mostly for the sake of decorum). Keep the thermostat at a responsible temperature. Watch your water consumption. Reduce, reuse, and then if you’ve done that, recycle. We are only as powerless as we want to be. We can wallow in the shit that the media feeds us or we can remember that we are human beings—we are not capable of superhuman feats, but we are capable of practicality, love, generosity, and happiness among many other things.

So, the food crisis rages, but what we can do about this is more than cry and worry. We can learn to garden (it’s harder than it looks, but really rewarding when things turn out the way they’re supposed to), preserve food (easier than it looks), buy locally, and, very important, be thankful for what we have and not abuse our wealth. It also wouldn’t hurt to donate something, whether locally, to a reputable food bank (and they need your volunteer hours as well), or internationally to a relief organization. But above all, feeling hopeless isn’t going to help anyone. So get up off your depressed ass and do something.

1 comment:

green with a gun said...

You're absolutely right. All we can do is keep living our lives as we think good and hope others will follow, and keep writing those letters.

But there's nothing to be ashamed of in that, and it does affect the quality of people's lives.

In Judaism we say that it is not given you to finish the task, but neither is it given you to set it aside. It's like those medieval cathedral builders - the thing might take a century or more to build, so the person shaping a stone to go into it would never see it finished - they just had to take pride in the stones they shaped.