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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Feed the Poor

Photographs of dairy farmers dumping raw milk into ditches along the road confused me as a kid. As an adult, I am still perplexed as to why any food products would be literally thrown away just because the crop is larger than expected and farmers desire a greater profit. Paying farmers to NOT plant crops is equally disturbing. What ever happened to free market capitalism?

It does not matter to me what economic justifications the farmer or food processing businesses use, wasting food is just wrong. My parents grew up during the great depression and I have often credited that fact with their strong conviction that we do not waste food. Ask my brothers and they will all retell a story or two about sitting at the dinner table until everything on our plates was eaten. To this day I cannot dine on beets without remembering the night that Dan and I sat crying at the dinner table because we hadn't yet finished the very small portion of beets that my parents insisted we eat. We were told that we must at least try them.

The parental commandment to finish everything on our dinner plates may be a contributing factor to our all being a bit overweight at some point in our lives. Parental commandments are, after all, difficult to ignore, but that's another story or two..... We were never harangued about "starving children in India", we did as we were told. We also learned to be gracious when eating meals with friends and families and to not completely refuse any of the entrees and side dishes offered to us.

Over the years, I have seen far too many permissive parents that would rather please their children than teach them valuable life lessons. Special separate meals for the kiddies just never make sense. (Unless its liver!) Accepting that food will be wasted with a meal has been and will remain difficult for me to accept. And leftovers.....I don't know when Memo started refusing to eat leftovers, but I really ought to have a talk with his mother....... I digress.

I came across an article today about the dumping of up to 25% of the tart cherry crop in Michigan. A bumper crop should mean cheaper frozen cherries and pie filling in the purist economic sense, but in our "government regulated" farm industry it means that tons of cherries will become landfill or large compost heaps. That is unacceptable.

What is also unacceptable is the casual use of food in arts and crafts projects at school, Sunday school, or church camp. I shudder to think about the number of poor families that could have been fed by every bean or rice mosaic created over the years at the camps my church sponsored. I sure hope that more teachers come to their senses and choose other materials to make those crazy roosters and other such works of fine art.

The price of milk or tart cherries and every other commodity in this world is dependent upon the economic rule of supply and demand. To throw food away to increase one's profit AFTER a crop has been harvested is just wrong -- in my opinion. There has got to be a better way.......
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