Sunday, October 16, 2011

Food, glorious food

We all remember the classic scene at the beginning of the Academy Award-winning musical "Oliver!" by Lionel Bart. The film based on Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" depicts the children in the orphanage having been carefully fed a regimen of gruel - basically watered down oatmeal - and kept away from a diet which involved meat of any sort. This is to demoralize them and keep their spirits down. It is young Oliver Twist who implores Mr. Bumble for "more" and the tale goes off from there. In many countries the ability to ask for more doesn't even exist. Hundreds of children and adults in East Africa are experiencing hunger on a level few of us can fathom. Yet, here in America we take for granted the fact that food is in abundance and for the most part safely distributed from farm to market to table in an efficient system that assures quality and quantity of products. To be sure there are hungry people in the United States and many of them right under our veritable noses. But here we lack from the politics of food, where food is used as a weapon to keep the downtrodden in check and to prevent any possibility of a backlash against the powers that be. It's much like that in Somalia. The difference is that we have savage, bloodthirsty warlords there who withhold food intended to alleviate suffering because they intend to starve out their enemies. Not one of them is as innoxious a fellow as Mr. Bumble, I am afraid to point out. Nevertheless, we should consider that food is a necessary part of all of our lives. The sooner we remove its inaccessibility from those who need it, the better the human condition will be. Proper food and diets mean less disease and better general health. Think about that today - Blog Action Day - as we reach for the chips and dip, hot dogs or burgers just before we enjoy our regimen of football.

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