I can’t speak for anyone else, but I love food. I don’t eat to live, I live to eat. There was a time when I woke each morning and immediately thought about what I would be preparing for dinner, excitement bubbling within as the ingredients ran through my mind. Shower time wasn’t the same unless I closed my eyes and, while the water poured over my then bald head, pictured those lollipop lamb chops, sautéed garlic asparagus, and roasted red potatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with dry rosemary, red wine in tow. It happened automatically. It isn’t like I set out to think about food; food set out to occupy my thoughts and did so masterfully.
Food is a major part of the human existence regardless of our culture. It is the thing that brings us together, that reveals love, and that opens the door to authentic connection and dialogue. Food is the center around which all else gathers. It is the hub, the source, and the very thing you offer along with a hug when met with sorrow. Food heals us and makes us happy, but what about those who go without?
The very thing that excites many of us—food—is also the thing that we often take for granted. Every day there is a plate in front of us atop which a hefty portion of our choosing is heaped. We may or may not give thanks. We may or may not be grateful. We may or may not overeat. We may or may not have any level of mindfulness as we take bite after bite until finished. Yet not everyone is as fortunate. For some, a miniscule portion, insufficient to consider an appetizer or tapa, feels like a blessing, an answer to a weekly prayer to be sustained. Some aren’t privileged enough to take food and the ability to eat for granted. It’s not an option for them mentally or tangibly as the mind can’t conceive of not having to think about whether or not they will eat today, and the reality of the existence of food isn’t always there atop a plate.
I am in thought of Venezuela and the economic crisis they are living with. Someone I love dearly lives there, so I have as much of an up close and intimate look at the matter as one could have 2,200 miles away, and it’s unimaginable. Some days there is only grain, other days a form of green banana or corn (meat is rare), and if the citizens walk long and far enough they may manage to secure both, but don’t hold your breath, and definitely do not walk with a cell phone. The danger drawn from desperation is scathing. The looting, the robbing, and the deaths—resulting from a political and governmental source—have turned a once beautiful country into a dystopia.
I want to be more mindful, more grateful, and more aware. I’ve complained that the spicy dish I ordered wasn’t actually spicy or that my food arrived lukewarm when I prefer eating it piping hot, all while many have nothing over which to form an opinion. This doesn’t make my (or your) preferences bad nor do I feel guilty for having them. I am simply taking a moment to pause and breathe in the reality that many, including those that I love, are without this luxury and in many ways are suffering through a life of hunger, something many of us will never know.
So, before we sit down and take that first bite, let us send a blessing to those who rest uneasily at the other end of this spectrum who wait each month for the arrival of a government provided bag of food hoping that it will sustain and carry them.