This was the bonfire that burned last night as our friends’ 21 year old son was remembered. There are many sights to give you pause at a funeral for a young person; for me, the droves of stunned and tearful young men and women scrubbed into respectful attire hit me hard.
It’s common to say that the ceremony of remembrance lays someone to rest. In Rupert’s case, it hardly seems accurate. The roaring flames were the culminating moment of a giant communal effort to launch his boundless spirit into the crackling, infinite universe. Even the incongruity of the uniformed firemen assigned to monitor the blaze felt right to me. The wind whipped, and the flames rose, and here were these earthbound humans with hoses, working to contain this grief and love as it consumed everything that was offered to it and transformed it into something both vanishing and permanent.
It’s hard to accept what is served, sometimes. Hard not to hunger for a different reality.
I feel too rattled and scattered to write about eating today. But I promised I would write about hunger, and that feels a little more possible.
There are a lot of different kinds of hunger I can write about from a personal or eyewitness perspective: the specific and ravenous appetite of pregnancy; the greedy, snuffling, humming, sighing, leg-pumping bliss of a baby at the breast; the locust-emulating, counter-ravaging hunt for calories of a clutch of male humans after sports; the nibbly, mainly mental urge for a bag of crunchy things (or a chew toy) on a long drive; the nostalgia-fueled imaginings in the lead-up to a holiday meal. But I haven’t ever been desperately hungry, or watched as my children felt the pangs of empty bellies with no relief up my sleeve.
It’s not that I don’t think about food politics at all. In fact I spend a lot of time thinking about my own and my neighbors’ access to calories that are unsprayed, uncorporate, untrucked and unpackaged. But I gawk a little when, after wrestling my tantrum-prone conscience through the aisles of the grocery store, I see a cart at the checkout line with five cases of soda, ten frozen dinners and some Pop-Tarts. I wonder about wanting to eat that way, but I don’t stop to think much about feeling like I have to.
The Giving Table has organized a way to bring awareness to this issue today, by asking food bloggers to direct our attention to the stark reality that the government food stamp program, a reality for 50 million people in this country, posits that less than $1.50 per meal ought to cover things. You aren’t going to get a lot of broccoli on the table at that rate. Assuming you knew enough to want the broccoli, and had reasonable access to a market that might supply it. As a bare-bones measure to try to keep hungry people (especially children) fed, the SNAP or food stamps program deserves our energy to defend it, and it’s now in jeopardy. With about 30 seconds of your time, send a letter to your congressperson urging them to fight for it.
Want to know more? Watch the trailer below, and see the movie in a theater near you, or on demand at home. It’s a good start, and you don’t have to look much farther for some stunning facts which establish a pretty diabolical set of schemes at work, limiting people’s access to what grows in the ground and subsidizing their access to what spews out of a factory and will make them sick. Read more here, here, and here. Get mad about it. Pump your fist in the air and roar, Rupert-style. I feel silly giving you $4 recipes (though I love a pot of beans as much as the next girl), because pretending you’re hungry when you in fact have the luxury of spending your food dollar with a conscience undermines both endeavors, to my mind. But preaching you a little closer to a community garden project in your city or town, or a program like this one–well, that I am OK with.