What I’m about to say must stay a secret. A truth that we all know, but don’t talk about. A taboo of sorts. Something along the lines of: we know that processed food and tobacco is bad for us, but we still consume fast food and smoke cigarettes. Both the industry and the public knows about its harms, but does it anyway.
So, you’re wondering, what does this lady want to share that seems so shocking? And truth be told, for those involved in the food redistribution and food donation industry, this is probably old news. But for someone just coming into this field, it’s a major wake up call!
As some of you may know, every weekend I help redistribute surplus food from an organic local market to a non-profit that weekly prepares and shares meals with the homeless. The food that I handle is fresh, colorful, organic and expensive. Most people who work and don’t rely on assistance wouldn’t be able to buy these produce on their paychecks. So when I drive with a trunk full of expensive and valuable produce to be donated to those in need, instead of being thrown in the trash, I feel pretty darn happy and proud of myself!
Well, this week I had a chance to speak to a few non-profits as I expand the food redistribution network of Say No To Food Waste. And while all the non-profits I spoke with told me they are happy to receive more food, I was saddened by the type of food their clients wanted to receive.
It turns out, individuals who are faced with food insecurity want comfort food. They DO want help, but they DON’T want to change their diet or taste buds. Many are used to processed, fried, salty and sweet meals. So when they see colorful, fresh and organic food, they A) Don’t know what to do with it, or how to cook it, and B) They feel that it’s not as tasty and therefore want to throw it away.
That’s just insane! Here I am, so happy to be rescuing fresh produce that is extremely expensive, and helping people not just eat, but eat healthy, and then learn that the people I’m working hard for desire foods that aren’t healthy (non-organic, non-vegetarian, fast food). It really blew my mind!
Of course, there is no one here to blame but ourselves. As I mentioned earlier, we all know that tobacco and processed foods are bad, but most of us still smoke and eat fast food. Our choices and motivators have shifted from long-term results to short-term pleasures. Looking at the state of affairs of our environment and economy, this is very well and easy to see.
But I couldn’t believe that individuals who are in need, and rely on assistance, were voicing their concerns about the food they were receiving. That it was too different for them and they didn’t know what to do with it. This challenge requires immediate action of changing people’s behavior. But that’s a hard thing to do.
I feel that the best solution for this problem would be to make cooking fun! Make discovering new dishes a form of travel that most people can afford. And create curiosity for people around new tastes and sounds. Such as crispy red peppers crunching and bursting with flavor in your mouth. Or sliding a celery stick through soft and rich humus, sprinkled with olive oil.
All these things make me happy! They make me feel good, and I realize that I was taught to eat local and fresh from childhood. Most people weren’t. But I am positive that once people open the veil in front of their eyes and accept truth for what it is, we will stop killing our bodies with toxins from food and tobacco, and begin to cherish ourselves and the planet.
I hope I’m not wrong on this one.
With much love,