We love food. Let's get that out of the way right up front. We enjoy going out for a killer meal, cooking up a Thai feast at home and diving into an over-the-top dessert. But there's a shadow side to our ability to indulge.
Today is World Food Day. Tomorrow is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
We know all too well about poverty and the unrelenting strangle-hold it has on millions of people around the world. Heck, this reality accounts for a big chunk of the motivation behind our No Vacation Required life. We owe it to those living in despair – the ghosts of society – to live a full life and to be a voice for them.
So, when it comes to food, we also have some powerful triggers. Sometimes, say for example, when we're at a restaurant and a huge dessert is plopped down in front of us, I'll see a certain look in Caanan's eyes. A look that says "That's enough for four people." We simultaneously hate the idea of giving in to a monstrous dessert and hate the idea of wasting it.
We think of our inspirers in South America who are lucky if they get one meal a day, we think of our "family" in Zambia that had never had a meal away from home, we think about the fact that one in seven world citizens is chronically hungry.
Yep, a billion people are chronically hungry despite an over-abundance of food in parts of the world. Right now, here in the United States, a record number of people (about 46 million) are using food stamps. Disturbingly, this comes at a time when our home country also has a record number of millionaires.
You read that correctly. We have a record number of people relying on food stamps in order to live and a record number of millionaires.
The middle class is disappearing. People don't have jobs and, worse yet, are unable to meet basic survival needs. The impersonal "them" that used to be the small, unfortunate lower class is quickly becoming the familiar "us" – as we all watch our friends, family members and neighbors face major setbacks.
And that's not the worst of it. About 50% of the population of the industrial world is overweight while millions of people in less developed parts of the world are migrating for food. Like wild animals. This is wrong.
It doesn't have to be that way. There is enough abundance in the world for everyone. With our votes and with our money, we must send a loud message to governments and companies.
In order to do that, we must first each examine our own relationship with food.
Advocating for the less fortunate is a huge part of our lives, but we must step up our game. This week, with the assistance of a bunch of great tools from Oxfam – an organization fighting poverty – we're going to do just that.
By about 2050, there will be around 9 billion people on the planet. We need a better food system – one that more effectively feeds a growing population. Oxfam's "Grow" campaign is a catalyst for such change. Please join us in the fight. Over a meal during the week ahead, ponder the following on your own or with your dining companions.
- Where does your food come from?
- Who is the face behind your food?
- How have rising food prices affected you?
- How is the global food system connected?
We're hoping that the conclusions we come up with help to inspire the the action we take in order to make our country and the world a bit more hospitable for everyone. The key is getting power back into the hands of those who deserve it – the people who produce food and the people who consume food.
In honor of World Food Day / International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and the billion people that go without, please pass this post on and/or inspire those you know to have a discussion about food.
We'll report back regarding our learnings as well as our plans. We hope you do the same.
Because we know better, we must do better. It's our responsibility.
What do you think? Will you join us in the fight?