Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Place at the Table, Feb. 2011

The exasperation I feel surrounding the issues in my previous blog have kept me from writing this one in a more timely manner. I started to discuss the problem of obese yet malnourished people and the title of Mark Winne's 2008 article "The Poor Get Diabetes, The Rich Get Local and Organic." If there is one thing sure to make me cringe, it is the thought of fresh local food only going to a select group of people. It bothers me that a subject I love such as local food would become a class issue. I don't want it this way. I want fresh, local and healthy food to be the norm, something all of us have access to. I want it to be a "given", something that just is.

Even as little as 65 years ago, it was the norm. Poor families ate well, eating foods we now think of as gourmet. My neighbor has shared many stories of her very poor family and their diet. Fresh milk, eggs and butter, grass fed beef, venison, wild leeks, local chicken and grain all were part of her diet. She told me she did not have any money of her own as a child, but didn't realize her family was poor because they ate so well. It wasn't until adulthood she understood her family's poverty. Fortunately, there are many farm families today who still have a garden and fresh eggs, milk and can/freeze many foods. Yet according to my neighbor, many of these skills are not being passed on to younger generations.

Efforts are being made to make sure the poor do not get diabetes while the rich get local and organic. GardenShare recently hosted Dr. Poppendieck, an advocate for healthy school lunches. I did not make it to the talk, but I do know providing school lunches which include healthy, locally grown foods can be a way to close the food gap that we cannot afford to have. It could be a way to reach families from across the economic spectrum. From what I see in my daughter's cafeteria, most children buy school lunches. So why not use this opportunity to feed our children nutritious foods? For some children coming from extreme poverty, this may be the only meal of the day. I have a friend who went to very small rural school here. She told me many children would come to school when they were sick. Why? Because if they didn't, they wouldn't eat that day. All children need nutritious foods, but especially the most vulnerable who may only get to eat at school.

I meant for this blog to be about hope. I am afraid with any issue - reality, concern and hope are mingled together. My next blog will be insightful as Shaun Whitehead, chaplain at St. Lawrence University, has graciously shared with me her reflections on hunger from the Martin Luther King, Jr. service a few weeks ago. Her reflections are the source of the title for this blog. I was at the service and her reflections are an inspiration. I will share some excerpts with you in the next blog.

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