Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Simple Suggestion #156... Eat mindfully, part II

After re-reading Simple Suggestion #113... Eat mindfully, I've decided I need to take another kick at it. The first time around, last Lent, I only briefly, at the very end, mentioned eating as an exercise in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who don't have enough to eat. But after a weekend at a THINKfast, during which we didn't eat for 25 hours, in solidarity with people in the global south, you could say I've rethought the afterthought status I gave that reason to eat mindfully.

On Saturday afternoon, as our stomachs began to notice the fact that we didn't eat lunch, we watched "A New Leaf" -- a documentary about the food crisis in Niger in 2012, and about how the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace partner Caritas Niger worked to alleviate hunger in the Sahel region when the crops failed due to climate change. Other factors like locusts and military unrest also can cause food shortages for the people, who become desperate and sometimes sell necessary possessions, homes, or land to buy the food they once produced -- at jacked-up prices. Organizations like CFB and CCODP work to help the farmers receive fair treatment in times of food crises, and have also been instrumental in helping them to learn farming practices that are more drought tolerant. There is much hope!

Ever since watching the documentary, I have an image in my head of families lined up, waiting for a 50lb bag of millet, a jug of oil, and a small bag of beans for feeding their family through the hungry times, along with the memory of the young women playing clapping games as they grind their millet... here's a short clip that at one point shows their grinding pestils bouncing as they work and play at the same time. (If you ever have the opportunity to see "A New Leaf," I'd recommend it. I'm hoping the full version will be available online sometime soon, because it's worth watching.)


By late afternoon on Saturday, we were all chilled and feeling a serious lack of energy. Of course, we had a variety of clear juices to drink if we wanted, but I stuck with tea, cut my insulin levels down to almost nothing, and managed just fine. When we came home late that evening and I walked into my kitchen, I was struck by how much food we have in our house -- crackers and bread in the breadbox, a stocked fridge and pantry -- while Nana, the beautiful and smiling young woman wearing green, eats from the same sacks of millet and beans for months on end, as do many subsistence farmers in the global south.

On the other hand, in North America, we've come to think that it's important, even necessary, to have a huge variety of food cooked in a huge variety of ways using a huge variety of techniques and seasonings. But is it really? How much we take for granted! How blessed, how fortunate, how spoiled are we! And how important it is to realize that... and, perhaps, to simplify, and to share our blessings and good fortune with others.

Suddenly, in my books, my brothers and sisters in need are the main reason to be mindful of the food I consume, as well as the value of the land that produces the goodness that sustains me. Solidarity is a powerful thing, because it means that we can't take our meals for granted. If we are living in Voluntary Simplicity, taking things for granted isn't an option.

On the weekend, our THINKfast raised $2000 for projects like the one in the documentary, and now I want to do more... in gratitude for every mouthful that sustains me.

So, today's challenge, should you choose to accept it, is  to think about what you eat, consider what other people in the world may (or may not) be eating, be grateful, and find a concrete way to show that gratitude.

Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Try here.

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