My Kingdom For An Orange

I was visiting Shakesville when I came across a post entitled,  A Quick Question.  It was posted by Deeky on Saturday.  His question is as follows.

I was just at the grocery store, wandering through the produce aisle. I wanted to buy some fruit. I looked at the oranges and thought, hey aren’t these supposed to be… umm… you know, orange?
They were a sickly pale yellow color.
I’d like some decent citrus, please.

The thread is filled with people waxing on about fresh fruit and vegetables, and what is available where.  As of this time, there are 53 response and outside of my commentary on the thread, there are no references to western privilege in this conversation. 

Yes I said privilege.  In the west we take it for granted that we can walk into ourimage  closest grocery store and purchase fruit, vegetables and top quality meats.  We may complain from time to time about the rising cost of food, but the fact remains, we are only limited by the size of our wallets, and even the poorest amongst us still has a staggering choice when it comes to food.

image The audacity of a western person having the nerve to complain about the colour of an orange when there are children that have never seen, never mind held an orange in their hands is something that needs to be acknowledged as privilege.

We have so much food that we regularly discard it as waste, or leave it to rot.  Some people have realized the wealth that we consider garbage and have begun dumpster diving.  By going through the garbage bins located outside of grocery stores they are able to feed themselves.   Western nations discard tons of food daily, while in other nations people die from starvation.  We should all pay attention, Deeky wants an orange that meets his specifications.

The African Horn is currently undergoing the largest humanitarian food crises since 1984. The Word Food Program (WFP) has requested 460 million USD to feed 9.6 million people who have been affected by the drought and high food prices in Ethiopia.  In Somalia half of the population (3.25 million people) are also facing starvation. 

Even before the recent hurricanes Haiti, there were many that were eating one meal a day or surviving on mud fried in butter.  Fish has rotted in local markets because the population simply did not have the funds to purchase it.  Now that the country has been devastated by two hurricanes those that were already living in margins are in a terrible state. At this time the WFP estimates that an excess of 5000 metric tonnes of food is needed monthly to sustain the population and evade the threat of civil unrest.

In May I wrote about Zimbabwe.  The situation is so dire there, that women are trading sex for food. According to the Globe and Mail, “the Zimbabwean economy has collapsed in the last decade, with inflation now running at 165 000% and the unemployment rate at 80%. The women who spoke to AFP said they were drawn by the possibility of earning money to send home, but most of them struggled to earn the equivalent of $20 (€13) a day. At times they get paid as little as 50 US cents for sex acts.”

I could continue listing the hungry and the starving but I trust  that my point has been made.  When we engage in conversations we should always be aware of the privilege that we are expressing.  Complaining about the shape of a fruit or the colour is ridiculous when we examine the global disparity. 

We do not have a food crises, we have a distribution crises.  Is it really necessary to have super sized meals, or all you can eat restaurants?  Think about the concept of an all you can eat restaurant….eat and eat, not until you are full, but until you are so over stuffed that you can barely move.  These restaurants don’t just appear from place to place, they exist in all large cities and in most small towns. Our portion sizes keep increasing, even though few westerners actually perform the work necessary to justify this kind of caloric intake.

We have come to view food as more than a necessity; it has become a sport for pleasure.  We want it cheap, fast, and abundant.  Very rarely is there a thought of the true cost of the meals that we consume.  We have become decadent and greedy and with a reflection that is truly as ugly as Dorian Grey; is it any wonder that we refuse to look at a mirror?  My right to sustenance does not supercede that same right to a person living in Haiti, or Ethiopia.  Good luck with your produce shopping Shakesville commentators, I truly hope that it meets your specifications.  Along the way should any of you stumble on this post, remember that the orange that you discard would be priceless to a hungry child.

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