Though I know that a majority of the readers will answers in the negative, I ask this question –How many times have you gone to sleep hungry? And it was not by choice but due to lack of money to buy food. We know the answer and the truth is that while we live our lives without giving a thought as to where our next meal is coming from, there are millions of people living with us in this wonderful world of ours who have no idea about the same.
Before we think about solving the world’s problems, let us try to understand what exactly food is. We wake up in the morning with a cup of maybe milk or tea or coffee or fruit juice. We follow this with a variety of things –fruits, bread, cereals, egg, meat etc. After a few hours our stomach starts to growl when its lunch time. Similarly when it’s time for dinner. I cannot focus on anything when I’m hungry and I’m quite certain that is how it is with a lot of people. We all know that to lead a healthy lifestyle we need to eat healthy food –fibers, protein, carbohydrates. The food that we consume gets converted to energy which runs our body, our internal organs. Plain and simple –food is our fuel. If we have to live, we have to eat. And being alive is the greatest requirement for us to achieve greatness in life –our sole purpose. I mean when have you heard dead men achieve great feats after their death? We now are on the same page and that is –we need food to be alive and do what we have to do.
Now, having realized that food is the most important thing for us, let us try to imagine how we treat our food. How do you treat your food?
A few weeks back on a Sunday morning I had signed up to volunteer at House of Charity. We had to reach the kitchen by 8:30 AM. After washing our hands and wearing protective gloves, apron and cap we were ready to take up tasks that were being assigned. I was shown how to prepare the bread for garlic toast that would be served that morning. A guy on my left was cutting loaves into slices and keeping then into a big container that was placed between us. I had a big oven tray with me. My job was to first put molten butter into the tray and spread it evenly. Then arrange the bread slices from the container into the tray such that it soaked the butter. Next I was to put some more butter on top of the slices and sprinkle garlic powder. After this, I would carry the tray to the guy who was handling the oven. We prepared about 10 such trays and this took a little over an hour. There were about 10-12 people preparing some or the other thing. It was breakfast time for us and we had fruits, soup and bread, anything that was available. After we hurriedly gobbled our food all of us were assigned one job. I was asked to stand behind the fruits counter. At 10 AM the gates opened and a line quickly formed starting from the head of the servers. This was a kitchen where we were serving food to the homeless and those who stayed in shelters.
My mom used to tell me and my brother that food is a blessing from God –the greatest blessing that could have been imparted. Respect it. Though I knew what that meant, my experience at “House of Charity” reinforced that if we have food to eat, we are truly blessed. Sadly, at the same time I have seen people waste food and be shameless about that. Be it a wedding or a restaurant, we see so much food being wasted. Since we can afford to buy food, we think we have every right to do whatever we want with the food –consume it or waste it. And nobody may advise us what we do with food that we just bought. Because it’s my money that was spent, not yours. Logically, that attitude may be right, but I think we are taking our rights a little too far.
I love food and I respect food, for it has kept me alive. I am happy when I have food. Most of the times I enjoy my food so much that I cannot do anything else while eating my food, not even talk. But this experience of watching –the faces of these homeless people filled with gratitude and a plateful of food in their hands– had a very strange impact on me. I think they understood what food meant since it’s not easily available to them. While I was serving them fruits with a smile and saying –“enjoy your meal”, I felt sad. These people who were being served expressed gratitude. They said –god bless you, -thank you for serving us, -thank you very much and showered all kinds of blessings on us. They know what it is to have someone serve a plateful of food. Even though they had so little, they were grateful. While there are so many who have so much that they waste, and they are not at a grateful. That is what makes me sad. I didn’t pride myself, but I thanked God that he has blessed me.
Food, as per me is a resource that has played an integral part in man’s evolution and growth. On a day to day basis a lot of people have done their bit to place food in front of us. The farmer, groceries guy, cook and the server. Yes, we do pay them all for their services but do we even buy the right to waste their creation when we waste food? Is it an insult to their efforts? I do think so. There are scores of people who would consume the food that we so easily throw just because we could afford to do so. Sometimes when I watch people waste food, I wonder –are we taking our blessings for granted?