When did u last eat? Maybe just a couple of hours earlier. Chances are you weren’t ravenously hungry, but it was mealtime, so you had your food.
For the past two years, we haven’t gone out much, have not socialized or hung out with friends, but we had some time at home after what seemed eons of rushing through mad traffic commuting to and fro from work; and we have enjoyed this leisure, eaten to our hearts and eyes’ content, spending much of the lockdown cooking elaborate meals and feasting on them. Banana bread became a rage on social media, and even amateurs starting churning out perfect curries and desserts.
Kids were cooped up indoors, birthday’s were happening online, and cakes were mostly homemade, some less adept ‘bakers’ resorting to Oreo or Parle G cakes as saviours.
We found solace in food.
Lockdown started, and it was customary to watch the news hawk eyed to know the developments and announcements, cancel travel plans, make more video calls to keep in touch with friends and family.
Amidst all the personal heartbreaks we all suffered due to all social engagements getting cancelled, we were still employed and able to put food on the table, not having to cut corners, while witnessing some less fortunate people losing their livelihood, having no assurance of where the next meal was coming from, setting out with their meagre belongings, on arduous journeys in order to reach their villages and hometowns, in search of work to earn a living. Some were bundled into buses by some good Samaritans and sent on their travels.
The haunting pictures of migrants walking for days in the scorching heat, with just a packet of Parle G biscuits and a bottle of water, 3 kids in tow with a starving mother, was enough to send shivers down our spines. It really put things in perspective for me. How privileged we are, even though we may not be business tycoons or some media mogul, we had more than enough of everything – clothes, shelter and food, the basic necessities to keep a person alive. We were afraid of catching Covid so we ordered everything online, concerned about how lockdown was affecting our physical and mental health, how we weren’t exercising enough, whilst the less fortunate said “If Covid does not kill us, hunger will”.
Hunger is one of the raw human emotions, if you fast for a day with only water, after 5-6 hours you end up with a splitting headache and a growling belly. People have been known to kill for hunger. We know that we evolved from a hunter gatherer lifestyle, when we ate only if we foraged or killed, and the little food that was found and shared within a community was enough for sustenance. Ayurveda says we should not eat after sunset, and keep our stomach only half full for proper digestion. But we have become slaves to the vice of gluttony, we stuff ourselves till we get sick.
Think about the aspect of the food industry, of Instagram worthy shots of delectable food and drink, of the excess food cooked and left over, and wasted, at homes and restaurants. Sentiments about food are very strong and polarizing. We feed animals on the road but hesitate to hand out food to anyone begging on the streets, so it requires a more planned approach to mobilise something to stop food wastage. Organisations like the Robinhood Army are trying to collect the excess food from restaurants and donated by anyone interested and distributing it to the hungry. It takes a humungous effort, and I am inspired by those who are donating food or their precious time to reach out to the needy, and wish to contribute personally as well.
We can start with small steps like cooking smaller portions, not wasting leftovers, handing out excesses to those who need, teaching our kids to respect food and have a clean plate at the end of each meal. We are depleting the earth’s resources really fast, and turning to growing meat in a lab to satisfy out greed, so it is time to wake up and work towards better food habits.