Friday, 18 November 2011
Food as a moral issue
Food shortages and the rising cost of food worldwide provides a grim backdrop to the growing need for practising thrift and avoiding wastefulness. Children still regularly die of starvation and in many parts of the world families struggle to feed their children. This is nothing new, the poor always have and always will be with us and most of us - I include myself - are quite good at ignoring the fact.
It is, therefore, positive that we are beginning to be more aware of how we manage food as a resource and that this is being highlighted as an important social, political and moral issue. We still need to seriously rethink some of our attitudes to food, for example there have been moves to try to reduce the scandalous waste in British households by axing over cautious "Best before" labels on food and encouraging supermarkets to be more ethical in the way they source and manage food.
An event that took place today in Trafalgar Square , the biblically named Feeding the 5000, aimed to highlight the practice of supermarkets discarding "imperfect" vegetables by cooking and serving a free lunch made of wonky carrots and other weirdly shaped foodstuffs. The thought that a rather delicious free lunch would otherwise have ended up as landfill, something which happens every day and which damages the environment as well as wasting good food, really should make us stop and think! Just because we are able to afford to waste food - and a lot of people in Britain still are in that position - does not make it alright to waste food. The reading this week shows us that we will be judged on the extent to which we have tried to to meet both physical and spiritual needs of others. It is also clear that when we are told :"I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me", it is simply not going to be good enough to say that we were too busy enjoying our riches, building our careers, stuffing our faces, or generally looking after ourselves to notice...