Maybe it is because Chopped is the last thing I watch on Tuesday night, but I generally find myself inspired by something from the show. Last night was no different. This week the theme for all the baskets was wasted; they contained products that would normally be wasted and thrown away. This included things such as parmesan rinds, wilted carrots, potatoes with eyes, meat trimmings, etc. While I was impressed by some of what the cheftestants created, it was similar to a special the Food Network had created before where the team of Anne Burrell and Alex Guarnaschelli competed against Bobby Flay and Michael Simon. The show served two purposes. It was a documentary about the food wasted in our country because it does not fit the “appearance” standards of the American consumer. It was also a challenge to them to collect these “wasted” foods from farms, markets, and even the trash outside of grocery stores with which to prepare a gourmet meal.
It is frustrating because even when you go looking for those “flawed” products it is hard to find them. One day I wanted to buy some over ripe bananas the local grocery store told me they could not sell them to me. They could throw them out, but they could not give or sell them to me. I have tried several places in the last few years to purchase these wasted products and have found no vendor who will sell or donate them to me. So instead of being used, they are wasted.
At the same time, we have shows, which bring to the forefront the amount of food wasted in our country; we have shows, which remind us of how many people, especially children, are going hungry. If we could use the edible foods, which are thrown away in this world to feed the hungry, we could end childhood hunger without having to raise money and awareness of this epidemic in our country.
Eliminating childhood hunger is not just about ending their physical hunger, but about giving them the nourishment they need to be able to focus on their education, the development of their gifts, and their talents. It is hard to focus on the homework ahead of you when your stomach is asking you if you are ever going to feed it again.
The sad thing for me is that not only do we waste food in our country; we also seem to be doing an amazing job at wasting time, energy, and talents. This is not only true for our children, but for all of humanity. Even when we are “old” enough to be able to make decisions for ourselves, so many people are throwing away either perfectly good time or being denied the ability to share their gifts and “food” with others. So often, this comes about because of structural violence. When we tell someone who is HIV positive they can no longer sing in the church choir because nobody wants to use the microphone after them, that is talent wasted. When we deny people with disabilities the reasonable accommodations to be able to pursuit the rights of life, liberty, and happiness, that is talent wasted. Sometimes we are the ones who perform acts of self-waste. When we spend 6-8 hours a day on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace, Instagram, and other forms of social media, and it is not our job to do so, that is time wasted. When we spend more time pursuing the acquisition of things, then on developing relationships with those we love, that is time wasted.
If we can take foods that might have been “wasted”, then we also have the potential in our lives to make better us of our time, talents, and resources and doing what we can to create spaces in which we minimize and work to eradicate “waste.”