Times of plenty, hunger and waste
The Torah was very clear at Harvest time: leave the edges of your fields for others to glean, rest the land and from your bounty tithe for the benefit of the poor (Leviticus 19:9-10 and 23:22). The Law honoured God by honouring others and honouring Creation.
Globally each year, we waste one third of all the food we grow. This amounts to:
• 30% cereal food losses – in industrialised countries this is the equivalent of 763 billion boxes of pasta;
• 45% fruit and vegetable losses – the equivalent of 3.7 trillion apples;
• 20% seeds and pulses, which would be enough olives to produce olive oil that fills 11,000 Olympic sized swimming pools;
NOT SUCH A BIG IF!
Do you remember the last time you felt hungry? Not just a bit peckish, but hungry.
What is it you remember – the rumbling in your stomach, or the gnawing feeling that you needed food? When we are hungry it is like an engine running low on fuel – our bodies need the energy that food gives us, to keep doing everything we need to do. One of the side effects of being hungry is the dip that our mood can take. Have you ever noticed how much more prone we are to irritability when we are running low on the fuel that food supplies to our bodies?
The last time you were really hungry – what did you do about it? Was it a trip to the takeaway or a look in the larder to see what was available? Maybe it was a quick visit down to the shops. That is the thing – when most of us are hungry there is usually something we can do about it.
Lydia Monds presents us with a very stark statistic (front page). It is that, this year, one in nine people in the world will not have enough food. Does the one in ninth person feel hunger in the same way as any of the rest of us? Of course, they do.
“Globally each year, we waste one third of all the food we grow,” writes Lydia Monds. So we cannot even say that we live on a planet that is incapable of producing enough food for each of us! Which of us knew that 45% of fruit and vegetables are wasted (the equivalent of 3.7 trillion apples) every year? Or that 20% of meat – 263 million tonnes, equivalent to 75 million cows – is lost each year. Those figures are hard to understand, even when our tummies are full.
It is always good to remember the story about the
starfish – Loren Eiseley tells the story of an old man walking along the shore after a big storm had passed. He found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see. He also noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and, as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.” The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
What if we stop one less person going to bed hungry tonight? Or invest in a subsistence farmer wanting to provide for their family. What if we added our voice against injustice somewhere?
We can – by giving, volunteering or just doing whatever comes to hand. John Maxwell says: “If you want something badly enough, you will find the willpower to achieve it and you won’t stop trying until you do”. Find out what you could do by visiting www.bishopsappeal.ireland.anglican.org
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Letters to the editor
HAVE little doubt that Revd Ron Elsdon (‘Lifelines’, 7th September) regards my voice as “shrill”. Dr Brendan Devitt (Letters, 7th September) describes comments I and others have made about GAFCON as “perverse”.
I barely know the former – having attended a fellowship of vocation with him aeons ago – and the latter not at all. Nevertheless, my ears are fine-
tuned to the language others use of me and my kind.
I assure Revd Elsdon that I long ago realised that this waste of shame can only be survived with a sense of humour. However, laughing with those who laugh at you is an expense of spirit.
Rupert Moreton (Revd) Joensuu, Finland
BEING HUMAN – BODIES, MINDS, PERSONS Author: Rowan Williams Publisher: London SPCK; pp.117
AMAZING GRACE: THE STORY OF WHITEHOUSE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 1867-2017
Author: Alf McCreary Publisher: Whitehouse Presbyterian church Price: £10.00
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