Day Nineteen: Poverty and Sustainability

So I was checking out some of the food my mom had bought from the grocery store yesterday this morning, trying to figure out what to eat for breakfast. As I was trying to plan out the day's menu, my mind slipped a bit and I began fingering the door to the refrigerator, already ravenous for something to bite down on. Eventually, I managed to open it and stood there, my agape, staring at the giant messed up hole in the wall that was our family's refrigerator. (As a side note, I do not recommend trying this at home. Standing in front of a refrigerator wastes precious energy, and everyone knows that energy waste leads to carbon dioxide production which leads to global warming. No kidding. So, kids, make sure you stay green and pick your poison before you open the fridge!)

What startled me wasn't a lack of food -- in fact, it was quite the opposite. I just couldn't wrap my head around was how much food my mother had managed to stuff in our fridge -- yet again. My family has this weird obsession with making sure that our kitchen constantly has food. I mean, it's great that we're so able to bask in the comfort of a first world life, but I always felt like this was overdoing it just a little. For instance, why do we really need to have all of this constant streaming of spending, taking, getting, receiving, and just about every other synonym that I can't think of while my brain is dead tired?

In Chinese culture, there is a saying that says that having leftovers promises wealth. In ancient China, in fact, obesity was seen as a virtue, and a trait only obtainable to the truly rich. This makes sense, because while wealth was much coveted, only a select few could obtain it. In the old days, the middle class was essentially nonexistent. You were either rich and waited on by multitudes of servants, or you were poor and breaking your back working on a farm.

It's always been the poor farmers who burned their calories throughout the day, were malnourished on a diet of grains and whatever cheap foods they managed to scrap up to scrape past the day, and who lived more plainly. The rich, on the other hand, could afford lavish foods that fattened up their sedentary bodies, expensive makeup to dress their voluptuous curves, and fancy clothing to hide it all from the views of the public.

Yet, in today's culture we can see that the complete opposite is now true. Society admires women, especially, who fit the description for the working class of an earlier time. Tan, slim, muscular bodies are admired while fat, pale, and flimsy bodies are chagrined. There's reasoning to stand behind this, because humans are naturally built to be hunter-gatherers (the entire basis of the paleo diet) but generally speaking, this shows just how subjective humans are to the ways of the days.

Going back to my initial reaction following the opening of my fridge, I began to wonder why I was so upset. There was quite literally no end to my choices for foods to consume within the next hour or so. My fridge, pantry, and counter were filled with options that only a rich family would have been able to afford at an earlier time period. It's really first-world-problems as food for thought.

Would a poor child be angry that their parents bought too much food?
Would a poor child have trouble deciding what to make for breakfast?
Would a poor child even have the privilege to be annoyed at the overstuffing of their fridge?
Would a poor child even have a fridge?

As these thoughts slowly sank into my mind, I realized how much of a spoiled, bratty, snobbish, middle-class life I've been living. I've never had to suffer from disease, starvation, or poverty. I've never suffered the loss of a home, of a family, of everything and anything that had ever mattered to me. Most importantly, I never had to feel the pain that so many lives before and after me have felt and have yet to feel.

And so, I closed the refrigerator door after an absurd amount of energy had been wasted, realizing I still didn't know what to eat for breakfast yet. I settled on finishing a cup of yogurt we'd bought some time ago.

Breakfast: Yogurt with cinnamon, banana
Lunch: Egg salad sandwich
Dinner: White rice, spare ribs, homegrown tomatoes in a garden salad
Snacks: Ube mousse, dinosaur egg plums


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