Growing up, was there ever that friend who was loved by all your friends moms? You know that guy who your mom would say, “You know, you should invite that _____ kid over, I really like him!” Well, let me tell you, I was that kid, and still am. When I first met the beautiful woman who is now my mother in law, we hit it off at once. Now you may be wondering “Christian, how do you do it?” Well, let me fill you in, it is all about food. I love food. I get excited about food. And not just that, I am not picky, I get excited about most food. Mom’s would cook for me, and I would say “Mmm, this is delicious, how did you do this?” and I meant it. So mom’s would invite me over just to eat their food because I would get so excited about it. This is the rock on which my Mother-in-law and my relationship is built. We enter the door of my in-laws, and once my children have been robbed from my arms and been kissed and hugged and squeezed, then Gwenda will say “Christian, I made something for you!” and my heart will start racing and I will eat some great Trinidadian dish (this will also be followed by accusations from my wife that her mom loves me more then her).
Now what does this have to do with the poverty diet of which I have just finished day 2? I can’t get excited about this food! I mean, this packaged oatmeal is really boring. The fried egg sandwich was fine, but next to my wife’s eggs that were smothered with homemade roasted tomato sauce, it was just disappointing! And coming home and cooking my can of Broccoli and cheese soup in a pot next to the homemade squash soup the rest of my family was eating was just sort of blah! The highlight of the day was my granola bar that was covered in chocolate, which is the closest thing to a desert that you can have.
I guess what I am missing is choice. When your meal choices are either from a box or a can, it’s hard to get excited, especially in this time of harvest. A friend of mine said to me on Sunday, before the diet started, that she would have done it if you were supposed to live on a certain amount of money, but she just didn’t want to eat all that processed food. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that’s the point of the whole thing, to realize that once someone has run out of money, which is easy to do with social assistance rates so low, you lose the chance to choose what you are going to eat. You can’t choose to eat healthy, because virtually everything you are given to eat isn’t healthy. To be honest I have had much more choice in this diet then many do when they go to a food bank. I got to go to the store and pick out which soup I wanted, which canned vegetables I wanted (beware of peas labeled “sweet and tender”. A better label would be “tasteless and mushy). Most food banks that I have been to just give you a bag of food and you do with it what you can.
I look forward to being excited about a meal again, but I regret that many in our cities rarely are able to have that experience. Let us find ways in which we can allow those living on limited incomes in our cities to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and all the other ingredients that make our food come alive.