The ten of us sat down, scattered about the cottage, enjoying a scrumptious smorgasbord of foods. Never had any of us enjoyed a meal of this sort…and perhaps never again. Some of our closest friends humoured us on our challenge, and we enjoyed quite the assortment of freezer fair together. We were living richly in the joy of community.
When I read the story of the heavenly wedding feast in the book of Revelation, at the end of the Bible, I wonder if it describes something much more similar to this, than to what we often see in the multi-billion dollar wedding industry.
The meal was far from perfect. It wasn’t a four course delight of well-crafted, aesthetically pleasing bites. It was four small portions of different kinds of meat, some potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, strawberries, and sweet peas. I crafted a salad with some strawberries and lettuce with oil and vinegar drizzled over; and the remaining veggies we ate raw with a dip made of equal parts mayonnaise, yogurt, and some spices. The meat and potatoes we grilled up on the BBQ and every person got a few bites of each kind.
We ran out of propane half way through the grilling process and had to borrow some from the neighbours, but eventually the meal was cooked and the food consumed—sitting on the floor, at the table, on the couch, scattered about. But laughter, and love, and beauty filled the air, with smells of grilled meat and roasted potatoes wafting through the cottage.
Far from the perfection of a well thought out meal, we basically put everything we had out to eat and people ate and were filled, and couldn’t have cared less what we were eating, for the company was more important than the food. (My husband and brother-in-law did a pretty awesome job none-the-less of making a delectable spread out of little!) But it wasn’t just about the food.
This past month our family embarked on a 30 day hunger challenge. Essentially the challenge was to not grocery shop for a month and only eat whatever is on the shelves and in the refrigerator and freezer. Download the challenge here to join.
Here are some of our take-aways:
1-Creativity: They say that necessity is the mother of invention. But I say…limitations are the mother of creativity. Shopping your shelves is like a month-long “Chopped” competition, where you get the weird ingredient list and have to make something. Thanks to Pinterest, with my olives, lentils, dates, and frozen canned tomatoes, I made this vegan Cuban piccadillo dish. We often waste so much for lack of creativity and lack of limitations.
2-No waste: I had some leftover caramelized onions, mushrooms, and roasted asparagus (like a few spoons full—an amount I normally would not have bothered keeping) from a few nights before. The soggy veggies looked unappetizing at best, but I threw them in a risotto and they added tremendous flavour and didn’t go to waste. We became very aware of how much food we waste in our household and how much unnecessary trash we produce as well. During the 30 days we adjusted our habits immensely. This cut normal costs in huge ways because we are utilizing things that would have been pitched in the past.
3-Needs vs. Wants: The fact that we have a choice about which foods we eat is a the definition of privilege. I can’t believe how much I have taken for granted healthy choices, impulse buys, and personal cravings in the past. My husband and I love food, and enjoy cooking and hosting together, and do not plan to stop this after this experiment. But we recognize that, globally-speaking, choosing to buy fresh, organic produce, and a nice piece of meat is a rich-person possibility. It seems like an insignificant change, but we are starting to change our rhetoric about grocery shopping. “What do we want this week?” versus, “what do we need at the store?” because we likely don’t need anything. We are also opting for a simpler diet by packing lunches of leftovers or PB&J sandwiches at least most of the time, and eating several vegetarian dinners each week.
In How to Be Rich, Andy Stanley argues that one of the biggest issues in global stratification is that in the first world, people do not recognize their own riches. If you have food in your house that can last more than a couple of meals (and my guess is most of you reading this, could last weeks, or even months), clean water that comes out of a tap, and more than one pair of shoes, you are rich by global standards.
Let’s act! I am certain that if enough people put their heads and hearts and hands together and did something, we could solve world hunger in our life times. We have enough in the world. If we really want to live richly, then let’s stop living at the expense of other people and do something about it. Join in the challenge.