Thought for Food

“When Eating Bamboo Sprouts, remember the man who planted them” – Chinese proverb

childrengrace

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any reuse of this image.

Gratitude for nourishment is, of course, practised across many of the world’s religions, and has even become a secular tradition, especially in the US, where both Christians and non-believers celebrate Thanksgiving in November.

The idea of saying Grace is synonymous with sitting around a table with family or friends, after a home-cooked meal has been brought to the table. In Western culture, this event has become something of a rarity, so it’s no wonder that Thanksgiving has been assigned to just one day in the year.

But whether it’s a five-minute lunch over the laptop, or a fine dining experience, how often do we take a moment to acknowledge how fortunate we are to even have food before us?

A common attitude toward food can be summed up in a phrase I heard recently, when a colleague announced she was heading on a speedy lunch-break. “I’m just gonna go and throw a sandwich in my face.”

While the phrase is laughable, it characterises how little meaning we often invest in mealtimes. Food is something we might take for granted and hold little respect for. Yet what might be plentiful for us, is scarce for others.

The poorest countries in the world struggle to have enough food for one daily meal, let alone the three we have become accustomed to. Recent news reports suggest that one-third of food produced worldwide is wasted while millions of people around the world are still starving. But this feels like old news, and accordingly, it is readily forgotten each time we take a bite, or throw away the leftovers.

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