Aside from cyclones, earthquakes, wars, and politics, there are still mountains of depressing news. A depressive economy. An unhealthy population. A global food crisis.

I can choose to ignore wars that happen across the oceans. The same with cyclones and earthquakes. I can turn my nose up at the unhealthy. I can hoard my savings little by little as I can when I can. But I can't choose not to eat.

I've never experienced a life without easy access to food. I remember once when I was a teenager, I went to the neighborhood grocery store. I put the bags in my trunk and duly locked the keys in my car. It was good I didn't have ice cream. I ran back to my house, no more than a mile, got another set of keys and made my sister or mom or someone take me back to the store. I think that is the most I've ever worked for my food.

But food in excess is a luxury. Regardless of my acknowledgment of the luxury, it is just that. When I hear news reports of the cost of bread in Egypt, the rising prices in America, the starving people in crisis around the world, I take another look at the way I buy groceries. I work hard to only buy what we need, eat everything, and only throw out what is unsalvageable.

Yet, until lately, I have turned a blind eye to my work. Working as a junior high youth minister, I am regularly bombarded with ideas to slather the kids up in chocolate sauce and roll them down a hill. People love getting into food and making it messy. But the voices of the women who can't afford a loaf of bread ring in my ears. They yearn for the simplest of foods and I am promoting extravagant wastefulness?

This simply cannot be. And so gracefully, from here forward (actually several months ago) food-wasting fun will be eliminated from the repertoire.

Food is for nourishment and it should be respected as so.


Brian said...

Excellent post. A very thoughtful way of encouraging others to rethink the waste of food we often teach youth is part of the "fun" of youth group. I used to do these sorts of games until a camp director I worked with pointed out the mixed messages they were sending our youth. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Love your blog.

alaina said...

Thanks, Brian. It was actually a conversation with my boy scout leading uncle that started the thought process about a year ago. With all of the media attention on food of late, it seemed time to make that decision public, perhaps compelling others to join in.
(love your blog as well!)

livefish said...

This was a wonderful entry. It bothered me to no end to hear of youth groups going to various fast food places to see who could eat something off the dollar menu at each place. The last one to puke wins. So not only are we wasting food but we aren't even actually eating it.

When you are ready to kick it up another notch I would encourage you to talk with your group about Freegans. (http://www.freegan.info/) At first I thought this group was gross then I realized they can afford food but are upset at how much is wasted which informs how they obtain food and share it.

I made a pact a while back to never stop at fast food places with groups on trips. Food is something to be enjoyed, so we either buy food at grocery stores and eat at a park or go to a sit down restaurant. There is a reason Jesus uses meals as important aspects of his life and ministry.

Keep up the great work.

alaina said...

Thanks for visiting, livefish!

I have never come across the eat-till-you-puke madness, fortunately I suppose. I feel sick thinking about it.

I enjoy your thoughts on fast food on trips and meals. Do you have a large group when you travel? I don't travel much with my junior high students, but my co-worker often travels with groups of 60-100. The logistics are a bit daunting... worth it?

I love the idea of a picnic. Perhaps I will pop one in on our servant event this summer. (Potentialrelatedposttopic: traveling for YM mission trips/servant events/etc. good/bad/both/neither/way too controversial so just leave it alone and don't talk about?)

I think I have run across the freegans, or something similar, in some of my reading a while ago. They are definitely radical, but radicalism/hyperbole is often a very strong teaching technique.