No Reservations

I am home, sick, today, snuggled up on the couch watching television. I am watching Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, a food/travel show. He is in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua…I didn’t even know where that was (Central America for those of you who are ignorant like me). I happen to start watching the show in the middle of it where he visits La Chureca, the city dump.
The incredible thing about this place is that people live there and they sort through the garbage to find food for their families. The sort through industrial and medical waste to retrieve food. They live there, building homes out of refuse, sorting through garbage to find things that can be recycled and sold to support their families.
It really made me think. It made me think about how I live, how I eat. I live in Australia where you need to adhere to very strict regulations to sell food. Our food is sanitised to within an inch of its life. People don’t buy an apple or banana if it has a blemish or a bruise on it. People get upset if there is a single strand of hair in their food. But these people were eating food that had been thrown away amongst industrial and medical waste.
Australians throw away $8 BILLION worth of food every year. 20%-40% of fresh fruit and vegetables are rejected before they even reach the shops because of cosmetic reasons…perfectly fine food thrown away because it doesn’t look right. How do you reconcile this waste with the amount of hunger in the world…the amount of hunger in our own country?
I have always believed that to have a roof over your head and food in your stomach is the very basics of human rights. I am a feeder…I get joy out of feeding other people. I love to see people eating and enjoying the food I prepare for them and when I see things like this, I just want to do something, I want to feed the world.
My daughter-in-law suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and as such, food and nutrition are extremely important for her. She is currently in hospital and the food she is being served is pathetic. Over processed, over cooked, reconstituted gruel. How can our health system feed our most vulnerable people such substandard food? I have heard of a study that was done that showed the health and nutrition of children with Cystic Fibrosis declined while they were in hospital. The food is so bad in the hospital where my daughter-in-law is that she won’t eat it and we try to provide as many homemade meals as we can. We need a food revolution in our hospitals similar to the one that Jamie Oliver did in the schools.
We are a country of contradictions. On one hand we have the most vulnerable people in our society being given substandard food and on the other hand we have 450,000 garbage trucks worth of food being thrown away – 33% of which is FRESH FOOD. We have a national campaign aimed at getting people to reduce their intake of fast food, and yet we are feeding those in our hospitals with food that is no better than that.
Food is such an integral part of our lives, but we take it for granted. I ask you, today, to think about the food that you eat and the food you throw away. Maybe it won’t make a difference, but maybe it will inspire someone, somewhere.



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