Let me begin by saying that I have over a dozen books/products that I should be reviewing, but this really touched my heart today, so I have to write about it.
Secondly, you are probably thinking this is one of my rants about processed food or the like, but it isn’t. It’s far more serious than that.
I met a friend and her children at Whole Foods today. The kids got to eat lunch together in the cafe area, and I did a little grocery shopping. Unfortunately, I left my wallet at home; luckily, my friend let me borrow money to buy my food. We left the store, and I had to stop at the first traffic light. There was a woman standing on the corner with a “HELP PLEASE” sign. Normally I’d give her a dollar, but since I didn’t have one, I grabbed the first thing I could find in my grocery bag — a banana. She had a leg brace on, but still managed to clumsily run over to my car as soon as she saw food. I told her that I didn’t have any money, but she could have a banana. She said “Wow…real food! Thank you so much! I love fruit! I always eat from the dollar value menus, but this is real food!” She tore that banana open like a lion attacking its prey and ate it immediately.
My heart was happy for a moment because I saw the life in her face as she ate this banana…but then my heart sank. No one in this country, with such wealth and luxury and extravagance, should have to live like this. We pay tax money to fund wars against today’s enemies, while re-building their communities the next day. We waste millions and millions of dollars housing people in prisons who were arrested for possession of marijuana (feed them, clothe them, give them free healthcare, etc.), while middle-aged American citizens are standing on street corners in the middle of the summer heat in Florida, thrilled to eat a banana.
Then there’s one other problem…and that’s that real food has become a privilege. This woman can get a whole “meal” for $2 at a fast food joint, while a bowl of cut fruit, even conventional purchased at the grocery store, is like $5. It’s a vicious cycle – people with limited budgets eat crappy food, suffer health problems (e.g. obesity, diabetes, heart failure, etc.), and either can’t afford treatment or need to go on Medicaid to get the treatment they need.
Real food shouldn’t be a privilege. People used to forage for whatever they wanted, whatever grew locally and could be cultivated. Now, a banana (in an area where bananas can grow) is so hard to come by, this poor woman tore it apart like it was going to be stolen from her at any moment, like it was the best treat she could ever imagine having.
How have we come so far in so many ways…and yet, we are so far from where we should be…
And when you eat dinner tonight, appreciate every last morsel. We sometimes need a reminder like this to remember just how blessed we are to have what we have.