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Waste Not Want Not This Thanksgiving

Friday, 9 October 2015

As some readers already know, Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday of the year. It's all about the food, drink and fun and without the stress of gift-giving. Plus it's a shorter season than Christmas, since we've got to move on to the Halloween season. (Which is the other most excellent day of the year.)

It’s only Friday and I’m already feeling stuffed, as I plan to over indulge this weekend. The greatest challenges I will likely face over the next few days will be getting the turkey done at the same time as the brussel sprouts and whether I should drink red wine or white. And I must remember to pick up some Hellmann’s mayonnaise, because without it my leftover turkey sandwich just wouldn’t be the same. A dry sandwich?  I couldn’t bare it!

Like most people reading this post, I am extraordinarily lucky. I could have been born in a war zone, into extreme poverty or to parents who didn’t value education and had the odds stacked against me. Statistically speaking, that would have been a more likely scenario. I feel exceedingly thankful that the stars aligned and a bunch of cells came together to put me in my healthy body and plopped me in one of the safest, richest countries and in the very best city in the entire world.

Being hungry and unable to feed oneself is the worst, most heartbreaking position imaginable. We connect with each other over food, we nourish our bodies and our minds and food is, literally, the building block to a healthy, productive and connected life. Truly, there is nothing that is more important than to begin with simple sustenance.

According to The World Bank, the number of people living in extreme poverty (those who live on less than $1.90 per day) will dip below 10% (702 million people) in 2015, for the first time ever.  That’s down from 12.8% (902 million people) in 2012. This is very good news.

However, if you’re one of the 702 million people who are hungry most days, there is still much more work to be done. The world already produces enough food to feed everyone, but some of it doesn’t reach people in remote places. And also, a staggering amount goes to waste. One-third of food produced for human consumption goes down the drain. One of the main culprits for that? You and me. We buy more than we need, we fail to plan, we refuse to buy a bruised apple and we’re terrified of best before dates. Since we haven’t yet learned how to feed everyone, that much waste is one big shame. It’s also very bad for the planet. (Throwing away food uses up a lot of water and creates greenhouse gas emissions.)

These days I’m putting more effort into shopping more often while buying less and eating all my leftovers. Earlier this week I finished last Friday’s chili for breakfast! It was a good way to start the day. Also, cooking is an important life skill for any kid to develop and this weekend’s feast is an opportunity to get kids involved in the process and connected to their food. Learning how to cook teaches kids how to take care of themselves and seeing what goes into a meal will begin to teach them to appreciate it, and that there isn’t always more where that came from.

So what you don’t finish this weekend, try to finish in the days afterwards. Personally, the left over sandwich is my favourite part of the meal anyway and turkey bones make fantastic soup stock. Send your guests home with tupperware containers filled with your efforts.

And as always, remember your local food bank by donating your time or your money.

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all. May your hearts and bellies be filled with love and goodness.

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  • Jim Wright

    Smart lady….