Christmas Food for Thought

We already produce enough food to feed everyone on the planet.  However, over 800 million people are undernourished, while at the same time 2 billion are overweight or obese.  Those words were part of my Sunday morning sermon at Central United Church just a couple of weeks ago on Nov 26.  Much of my information for that message came from a recent Paul Kennedy’s CBC program called Ideas which you can easily access for the full background material. In this article, I would like to focus on the last part of what I talked about that Sunday morning – how we purchase and use our food as we move into what, for many, is often a holiday season of over-indulgence.

First of all, apparently 20 to 30 per cent of the food that is bought is thrown out.  You know – that green, slimy stuff at the back of your fridge – or those best before boxes of stuff that are years (not just months) past their best before date!  Secondly, research shows that based on average weight gain through adulthood, people are consuming 20 to 30 per cent too many calories. So, eating a healthier, more balanced diet would not only help tackle the obesity epidemic (and save an incredible amount of health care dollars, never mind the pain and suffering), it would also take as much as a third of the caloric demands out of the global food chain. To quote Prof Benton, “If everyone in the world chose to live like your average North American, it would require four Earths to produce all the necessary food.”

So, what can we do about it?  Maybe we can consider the following:

When we are shopping, let’s consider how we can ensure that the food we are buying will actually be eaten – rather than thrown out before it is even used.  Buy less food, but buy healthier food.  Buy less junk food which, as we know, is filled with fat, salt and sugar.

Secondly, build relationships with people who grow the food – think local.  Living in this area we are in an ideal position.  We are close to many different places where we can get to know the people who produce the food we eat. We can challenge ourselves to see how much of those special meals can come from within 100 miles – the 100-mile diet.  We can ensure that what we purchase is healthy, and produced in an environmentally friendly way.

As we load our plates during this season, let’s take a smaller helping to start with – we can always go back for seconds rather than leaving food on our plate to be thrown out.  And those left-overs?  Most freeze nicely for a wonderful easy meal in the new year.

Amongst all this, let’s not forget to share from our abundance with those who need our assistance to get even the most basic food on their table.  In this season of new birth and new life, may we find ways to spread hope, peace, love and joy to all.