Tuesday, 1 December 2009

An issue over food

A major concern when I came on this trip was that there would be fussy eaters on the truck, vegetarians aside. As someone who eats pretty much everything, I struggle to understand how people can turn their noses up at food…especially in Africa where we stare poverty in the face every single day.

We’ve been very lucky in that most of us on the truck eat everything so we’ve had very few incidences where the choice of food for an evening was an issue. However, there have been a couple of occasions when leftovers weren’t eaten the day after they were cooked. Whilst we don’t have refrigeration on the truck, what people don’t seem to grasp is that refrigeration is an invention of only the last 60 years or so. In Africa, it’s virtually none existent so, even today, food is just kept in the wooden hut where three generations of a family eats, sleeps, survives. On this continent just attaining enough food to survive another day is a struggle for many people; if on the rare occasion a family has a piece of meat to share between them, they certainly wouldn’t throw out leftovers on the basis that there is no refrigeration.

On the truck when beef stew leftovers are deemed not suitable to eat less than 12 hours after it was cooked and people decide they’d rather throw it away that heat it up and eat it…nothing upsets me more. And this only a couple of days after we played with kids whose bellies protruded due to lack of protein.

It’s almost as if some people can separate themselves mentally from the poverty they see every day… to the extent that they’re immune to guilt. It’s something I absolutely can’t do: throwing meat away on a continent where people die of starvation each year makes me feel sick to my stomach. Whilst I would argue that burdening oneself with guilt is of no use to anyone, I do believe that we should show a healthy respect to the needs of others with whom we share this planet. If the leftovers aren’t going to be eaten the following day, at least arrange to give them to someone who will appreciate them, rather than throw them away!

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