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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Food for Thought

I'm sure other parents can relate to what I am feeling. In addition to my titles of mom, daughter, sister, friend, volunteer and retiree, I have another one: human garbage disposal.

I came to this realization one morning after eating the remnants of my daughter's spaghetti (from several days earlier) for breakfast. I hate to waste food, so I often find myself cleaning out the refrigerator of food my daughter started but didn't finish, or wanted me to buy for her and then decided she didn't like.

I don't mind eating leftovers, but I do draw the line at some things. I will not, for example, eat the remaining garlic mushrooms she asked me to buy. I hate mushrooms, so these will not grace my plate, ever. The same goes for tomatoes, radishes and cucumbers. For a while, I was cleaning out a large assortment of bread products: wheat bread (mine), white bread (hers), bagels and English muffins. And since I don't eat pork, the leftover pepperoni pizza will have to be eaten by the one who wanted me to buy it. The same goes for her pepper jack cheese, which is hers and hers alone.

I don't mind tossing out the occasional slice of sourdough bread that is now as hard as a hockey puck. But I refuse to waste food just because she decided she no longer likes it, or "forgot" it was in the refrigerator.

Fortunately, food is not all that important to me. As long as my stomach is happy, it really doesn't matter what I eat. So leftover spaghetti for breakfast is OK, although I usually eat more traditional breakfast fare. As a volunteer for the past year with a local food pantry, I am well aware of the numbers of people unable to adequately feed themselves and their families. So the thought of letting good food go to waste just because somebody 'forgot' that it is in the refrigerator (despite numerous reminders from me) really rubs me the wrong way. I have bought new food items that sounded good but turned out to be something I didn't care for, but I still ate them. Very rarely is something so bad I throw it away. I will eat it, and make a mental note not to buy that item again. 

Maybe when my daughter starts buying her own food she will understand how expensive it is, and how important it is not to waste it. As someone who usually didn't have enough to eat as a child in Russia -- both with her birth family and while living in an orphanage -- she has personal knowledge of hunger. But it appears that she has forgotten what it is like not to have enough food. I hope she never knows hunger again, but I also hope that she never takes an abundance of food for granted.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Earth, Teach Me

The first time I read this Native American poem on Facebook, it brought tears to my eyes.
I am an environmentalist, and have been for many years. I recycle everything possible. I pick up trash when I'm out walking. I own two hybrid vehicles. I conserve water and energy. I donate unwanted clothing and household items to non-profits. I take my own reusable shopping bags to the grocery store.
I also am a firm believer in solitude and self-discovery. This short poem seems to hit all the bases and cover the things that are most important to me.
Earth, Teach Me..

"Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain."

- A Ute Prayer