Don't get excited...I'm writing about Romper Room DO Bees. Not doobies. Romper Room was the preschool prequel to Sesame Street. The Do Bees were Romper Room's version of lesson-teaching muppets. As we sang along with the Do Bee song, we learned some of life's most basic skills: be a sidewalk player, be a shoe cleaner, be a car sitter, be an ear washer AND be a plate cleaner. Do be a plate cleaner, don't be a food fussy. That's what the Do Bees demanded from little Romper Roomers who "never did anything wrong."
I think we learned the plate cleaning lesson well.
Americans consume 815 billion calories a day - that's about 200 billion more than we need. Meanwhile, 700-800 million people in the world don't get enough food to support normal daily activities. 9.8 million people have died in the world this year of hunger and hunger related diseases. Here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we throw away 200,000 pounds of edible food...every day. And that's usually after we've cleaned our plates. We just throw away the extra food that never even got to the plate. I know, I know - you heard this over dinner when your mom wanted you to eat your peas: "There are children starving in Africa," she'd say. And we all thought: "Then, send these peas to Africa." You'd think our early awareness of starving children in the world might have, at some point in time, made us think about the way we consume the world's food.
In fact, it has not. In the 38 years since I was made aware of starving children in Africa while pushing broccoli around on my plate, food consumption, per person, in the United States has gone up 16%.
66.6% of adults in this country over the age of 20 are overweight.
32% are obese.
I don't want to be a wet blanket on the official U.S. eating season, but could we stop for a moment and at least think about our food traditions? I know I need to. It's so easy to confuse what we need with what we want, whether we are preparing the food or piling it on the plate. It's almost impossible, I believe, for a fully resourced urban American to even know when enough is enough. I've spent more money on magazines full of holiday recipes than many families in the world have to spend on food in a month.
And what about those starving children in Cameroon, Pakistan, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines (the top 5 hungriest countries in the world)?
I tell you these things not to inflict guilt, like your mom may have, but to share the grief.
Be mindful. Do bee a world thinker.
Peace comes when people are fed.