STEP AWAY FROM THAT PLATE! World Foodless Day, 2008

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
10/16/2008 4:42 AM   :  48 comments

Thursday, October 16, is officially World Food Day. But many people in countries around the world are celebrating it as World Foodless Day, to call attention to the growing threats to development and even basic survival many people face as food prices rise and availability falls.

They are asking all of us to join them in a day of fasting (unless, of course, you have a medical reason not to skip meals). You can donate the food money you save to your local food bank or to an organization like Oxfam.

Although the food crisis is less visible in more affluent communities, it exists everywhere. Most of us have felt the pinch of rising food prices. And here in the United States, many social programs (like your local food bank) that help people in need of emergency food supplies are running short of supplies and dollars just as their busiest time of year approaches.

There are many “large scale” problems that contribute to worldwide food shortages and rising prices, including everything from financial crises, water issues, and increased use of crops for biofuel to persistent problems with poverty, inequality, and misdirection of resources.

But our own daily habits and choices also play a significant role, both in the problem and in the solution. Read on to find out more…


Think Globally, Act Locally

It’s often very hard to see the connections between our own daily choices and habits and the effects they have on other people, whether they are down the street or on the other side of the world. It’s even harder to see how small changes we might make as individuals can have much effect on the enormous and powerful “systems” involved in global food production and distribution. But these connections are real, and every choice becomes another ripple moving out across the pond, far beyond its own little sphere of influence. That’s exactly why so many people interested in “big” issues have adopted the “think globally, act locally” slogan as their basic strategy. It’s the most effective way individuals can actually do something about these issues, whether it’s global warming, social justice, or global hunger.

If you’re interested in finding out a little more about how the food you put on your plate is both a cause and an effect of large-scale systems, here are a couple of good reads:

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan (yeah, him again, lol).

Food Politics, by Marion Nestle

For a more action-oriented point of view, here are Twelve Steps You Can Take for Food System Change.

So what do you think? Are you willing to skip a meal or a day's worth of them, to participate in World Foodless Day? I'm going to fast for the day and send the food money to my local food bank. How many of those 12 Steps mentioned above seem do-able to you? I've got to admit I'm not real consistent yet with eating locally, but I'm working on it...





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Comments

  • JAZZERCISEGENIE
    48
    I may fast. Our church supplies a meal for the homeless once a month. I doonate hoom cooked food to that. - 2/24/2009   7:54:20 PM
  • 47
    An organization I belong to sponsors a Thanksgiving "banquet" once every year in November. All monies donated go to Oxfam. Each person who comes donates a sum then gets a number. When everyone has registered the "winners" are called. Ten percent get turkey and all the trimmings; this represents 10 percent of the people inthe world who could feast like that. Twenty five percent get soup and rice, and the remaining 65 percent eat rice only, representing the food that the majority of the people in the world get. (In addition we are asked to fast that day, so as to impress us, the wealthiest and best and overfed nation of the world what it is like to eat like the majority of the people in the world.)

    Having lived in third world countries I know that this is true, and I gladly give donations to Oxfam to further its mission to help feed the people of the world and make them self- sufficient in food production. - 10/20/2008   12:25:12 AM
  • MSSHEL330
    46
    I wish I knew about this before the event. - 10/19/2008   7:52:40 PM
  • 45
    Myself, I didn't choose to fast, as I've always understood fasting is unhealthy and I don't do unhealthy things to make political points - but I accept that others find it a good way to offer up support, and I suppose one day wouldn't hurt. World hunger is clealy an issue we all need to consider! - 10/18/2008   12:16:44 PM
  • 44
    Most can't do this. If they did, they might actually start to recognise the difference between hunger& thirst. - 10/18/2008   7:07:50 AM
  • 43
    Interestingly enough, I was already fasting today. Some days maybe 5 or 6 times a year, I fast.
    I followed the link to the 12 things one can do to make a difference. And I do them. But then, this is not new to me. I'm a global citizen and very aware of the others who inhabit the earth.

    Some of the comments disturb me, but then, this IS an "American" website and we here represent a pretty good cross section of the the population (except that we are mostly women) I just hope it doesn't take so real disaster to rip the blinders off. - 10/17/2008   9:24:49 PM
  • 42
    My husband and I can't do a total fast for medical reasons. But several weeks ago we were talking about fasting in Sunday School. She brought up that fasting could be for a specific food or type of food we usually think we must have. There were a lost of differant reason a large portion of the class who couldn't fast.

    Even if you only do a partial fast or none there is no reason you can't donate to a worthy cause and support any of your communities projects to feed or provide food to those who need it. - 10/17/2008   2:42:21 PM
  • 41
    I know a lot of people voiced their concerns over whether they think fasting is ok or not, but I say, if you can, do it. You know for yourself if a one-day fast is going to cause you to binge or affect your health in another way. I'm pregnant so obviously I wasn't going to participate this year (even if I had read this article before Thursday!). The whole point of a fast of this type is that every time you feel that hunger pang you are reminded of those who feel that hunger almost all day, nearly every day. This isn't the kind of fast that tries to rid your body of toxins or speed weight loss, which is the kind that Spark warns against. - 10/17/2008   1:10:04 PM
  • 40
    Although due to health reasons, I can't fast, I set aside money for one day a month to give to my Church for our fasting program. The money is used to help not only members of our Church but people in need around the world. Also, I try to remember to donate food to the postal carriers and the boy scouts each year. - 10/17/2008   12:36:04 PM
  • ZYXKONRAD
    39
    I'm not a big fan of the Mormons, but they do have a regular fast/charity plan where they skip two meals on the first Sunday of the month. Then they donate the saved money to charity--and I have a problem with this, because like most Mormon "charity", it's their own charity, and they are already richer than God, and their outreach doesn't reach out much (ever?) to non-Mormons.

    But the framework, with some tweaking, isn't a bad setup. - 10/17/2008   12:30:07 PM
  • 38
    What a pity to have read about this the day after the event (I didn't even see it yesterday and I'm a "late day" sparker).

    Having said that, I don't need a specific day of a month to fast and to donate on. Starvation ufortunately is a year round thing all over the world.

    I fully intend to do a day long fast and donate my food money (or equivilent) to the food bank.

    - 10/17/2008   12:14:04 PM
  • ELLYN68
    37
    Very interesting article. I just read Barbara Kingsolver's book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" - she has all kinds of food facts. One of which is that there is currently more than enough food being produced to feed everyone in the entire world. It is such a shame that farmers are being paid to either not grow crops or to destroy the excess... - 10/17/2008   10:46:59 AM
  • 36
    I just finished a fast for religious reasons, but I was amazed about what I learned about myself and my relationship with food. Sure I felt hungry during the fast, but I discovered that I don't have to eat to fulfill my emotional needs. There were times when I would have normally eaten a treat, but even though I was hungry I discovered that I was fine when I didn't eat the treat. When I ended my 48 hr fast, I didn't binge as many people leaving comments feared. I ate sensibly and lightly so that my stomach would not rebel. :) I think many First world people are afraid to fast, because one) it goes against the cultural norm of not depriving yourself of anything and two) they are afraid of what they might find out about themselves. Good luck to all who do decide to do something about this issue. - 10/17/2008   9:43:24 AM
  • NHSTITCHER
    35
    I live in a third world country and I see hunger every day, I also live in a muslim country where they have just completed Ramadan, their month long fast from from Dawn to dusk. As much as I would love to comply, I am a diabetic and I personally don't want to risk my health when I have the means to keep myself fed & medicated.
    I do donate to those less fortunate as well. - 10/17/2008   3:55:38 AM
  • 34
    GREAT ARTICLE.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. - 10/17/2008   1:52:29 AM
  • 33
    I have seen starvation first hand. We lived in Central African Republic for more than 10 yrs. We would see the women with their children leave for the gardens at dawn with only manioc mixed with water for a hot drink. All day they toiled in the fields and grabbed a banana or handful of peanuts. These poor people had an average YEARLY INCOME of $140.00 from cotton or coffee crops. We taught them to grow fruit and greens since manioc had very poor food value. Also not much had been put back into the soil for nutritions sake. If their gardens failed from drought, animals tramping or eating, or any other crisis, they were without food. Others did their best to help, but often had very little left for their own families. All this is to say, there are needy people everywhere and this small sacrifice is worthy!!! I endorse it. - 10/16/2008   11:04:00 PM
  • 32
    You just brought to mind a blog I wrote back in September on a different, but related theme, called "Endangered Foods" based on an article I'd seen at msnhealth ... link is in the blog ... http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_p
    ublic_journal_individual.asp?blog_i
    d=1441526

    This one's about how many varieties of food have been pretty much "wiped out" by post WWII food manufacturing. Incredible. - 10/16/2008   10:45:42 PM
  • MSALWILLIAMS
    31
    Would have been nice to have had this blog posted a couple days ago instead of the day of the event. - 10/16/2008   10:28:02 PM
  • 30
    Wish I had read this earlier today. - 10/16/2008   10:24:30 PM
  • 29
    Interesting concept. - 10/16/2008   8:11:49 PM
  • BIENEGOLD
    28
    It's a one day fast, not a whole week, you guys. They aren't advocating fasting for health purposes here. Think about it for a few minutes. - 10/16/2008   6:44:33 PM
  • 27
    I believe fasting is fine as long as you don't do that often. I used to fast once a month. My body handles that just fine. If you do that for a good cause, it's a plus. I don't see why not. - 10/16/2008   4:58:39 PM
  • LIDUP2009
    26
    Well I think fasting accasionally is a good thing if not for the body then for the spirit if you have a purpose for the fast. Not everyone can. But those who can can bennefit spiritually. I applaud Spark for participating. - 10/16/2008   4:35:55 PM
  • 25
    While I agree that fasting may not be a great option for many people on Spark, we tend to forget WE HAVE THE OPTION. I think Coach's point is to look at/out for the millions who can't choose whether to fast or not--they can't eat.

    I'm going to do a partial fast, certainly going to the least expensive, lowest-down-the-food-chain options so that what I don't lose in quantity I make up in simplicity and approximation of what many would find luxurious, donate to my food bank, and up my volunteer time. - 10/16/2008   4:16:00 PM
  • 24
    I think it is better to give to an organization that will give those in need an education so that they will be able to support them self in the future. - 10/16/2008   1:39:35 PM
  • 23
    This is an example of spark being a little contradictory... since there is a big article about how the staff at spark is against fasting, and now this article.

    I'll continue to help out at food banks while continuing to nourish my body. I can help others without feeling guilt or depriving myself.

    - 10/16/2008   1:36:17 PM
  • 22
    The fact that anyone should go hungry is a sad commentary on the world today. I applaud Coach Dean for drawing attention to this very large problem and hope that many will take note and donate. The person you help today may develop the cure for cancer tomorrow. Give from your heart; the feeling is long lasting and makes the world a better place. Elle - 10/16/2008   12:47:54 PM
  • 21
    If fasting is not an option then why not just donate to a food related charity of your choice the equivilent of what you eat in the course of a day. In either money or canned products.

    The numbers fed by food banks and community kitchens grow every year. When the choice is food or rent, food or hydro, food or heat, food will always be the first to go.

    We live in a very food wealthy society, we can all share, one way or another.

    Lets remember that folks who need a food bank need healthy choices too. Especially challenged are the children who still need formula, and baby food.
    Peanut butter, rice, potatoes, canned fruits and vegetables, canned stews and soups are all viable options.

    Blessings to all. Share your abundance. - 10/16/2008   12:23:36 PM
  • 20
    It's a very nice thought, but I think you might be targeting the wrong group for your message. I have a feeling that fasting is probably not appropriate for a lot, if not most of the people who use this website. A lot of us have real food issues. I know it would be a disaster for me... I would get hungry and it would trigger a major binge, which would send me into shame spirals which would last for days, all on a lowered metabolism from not eating for most of the day. Donating food or money or time would probably be a better way for us to help. - 10/16/2008   11:52:04 AM
  • 19
    Great article coach Dean! When my son graduated from High School this past May, we held a food drive in lieu of gifts. It was such a good feeling bringing the collected donations to our local food bank. While we are in a financial crisis, I think we can all afford to give some food, if not money or time to help our fellow "neighbors", as this world is becoming smaller (do to the media and internet). We are all in this together and we all deserve the basics of food and clean water.

    While I can't skip a meal (it wreaks havoc on my body), I will donate to my local food bank. - 10/16/2008   11:00:59 AM
  • 18
    Thank you so much for this article. I don't have a lot to give, but I do intend to give to those who have less than myself. There is no reason for anyone to go hungry in this day and age. - 10/16/2008   10:24:01 AM
  • 17
    Good blog...never hurts to remind us of this terrible crisis around the world and in our own backyard....In this day there should never be a starving person or a person who needs medical. It's one world! Having food and medical is a God given right! There should not be a "third world" - 10/16/2008   10:19:55 AM
  • 16
    I already ate breakfast too and I think I would get a huge headache if I didn't eat something, but I will try to eat less today maybe and definately can donate some food to a food pantry! - 10/16/2008   10:19:30 AM
  • 15
    I'm glad that we are a community that can understand that we need to do what is good for our own selves and can support causes in other ways. Fasting isn't for everyone, but as these comments show, we are ready to support in a vast number of other ways. As we say here, Go Team! - 10/16/2008   10:02:26 AM
  • 14
    The last time I fasted was for surgery and it was not easy! I agree that there are better ways to show support and fasting is not a good option for most people. - 10/16/2008   9:44:04 AM
  • 13
    I am going to donate $25 to kiva today, and also round up some canned goods... The Omnivore's Dilemma is such an important book... Thanks for this article; I hope people are encouraged to buy local! - 10/16/2008   9:41:54 AM
  • 12
    Fasting.... not a good idea. I would crash before lunch. Besides I have had breakfast and already ready for lunch(and it is only 9:15 am!)!!! I feel for those in need but I really can not financially afford it either. I have enough trouble getting food on my table some weeks! Everything is going up but my income! - 10/16/2008   9:15:04 AM
  • SABRIELSWEETIE
    11
    not quite sure this would be a good idea for me.. I'm sure I'd crash later and, it may be selfish, but I just can't do that. I think it's better for me to donate some food to the local food shelf. - 10/16/2008   9:07:18 AM
  • 10
    Besides I baked an amazing Pumpkin Coffee Cake w/ Streusel Topping for one of the guys at the office birthday :) - 10/16/2008   8:18:52 AM
  • 9
    Growing up Catholic - even in the dark ages, during Lent we had the Rice bowl -- where we were supposed to have our families either fast or have limited meals during those 40 days (No meat on fridays) - and you were supposed to put what you would have spent on meals - into the 'rice bowl' and donate it to whatever the third world starving nation was at the time.

    Has it even helped? that was 35 or so years ago... and the problems seem to get worse...

    It's getting to that time of year when the food banks are camped out side of the grocery store, looking for donations... I will always fill a shopping bag of whatever happens to be on the list and happens to be on sale...

    Fasting for a day though? I don't need a fast to make me aware of issues or to spur me on to do something... I'm going to do it no matter what -an I like food entirely too muchto give it u; - 10/16/2008   8:18:08 AM
  • 8
    We won't completely fast - to many kids involved around here but I will donate the equivalent cost of the food that we'll eat today.

    This would have been nice to have gotten this information a few days ago so there would have been time to discuss it with my daycare parents. THANKS for passing the information on. - 10/16/2008   8:05:06 AM
  • 7
    I understand that the concept is to raise hunger awareness, but I'm not sure advocating skipping meals is wise for a healthy living website. At my college, on this day there would be a hunger awareness meal where you drew a "class" when you went in, and you ate like that class would in a third world country. Some people had a five course meal, while others had only rice and "dirty" water (colored with food coloring). If we recognize that hunger is a problem, we also must recognize that the reason it is a problem is because it is a detriment to one's health. - 10/16/2008   7:51:01 AM
  • 6
    I believe in the power of fasting & am able to feast on prayer for this cause. I am grateful this situation is not about me or my needs, but realize the day may come when I am the one in need. Thank you Dean for bringing this to our attention. I will weed out our pantry & do a special shopping trip to support our local food bank. - 10/16/2008   7:41:40 AM
  • 5
    I'm deployed so I already at breakfast and lunch by the time I go this email. I'm also not into skipping meals as I eat 4-5 small meals a day. When I am at home I donate to the local food pantry quite often. - 10/16/2008   7:27:36 AM
  • 4
    I'm about 3/4 done with breakfast already but will fast from noon on and donate locally this weekend, it's about time to empty out the hurricaine supplies as well and I always donate all the can goods. - 10/16/2008   6:36:22 AM
  • DONNAJAMES289
    3
    I found this article to be extremely interesting. I work at an agency that refer people to community programs that help them with basic needs, such as food and utility assistance. Our local food banks are maxed out, many do not even have any monetary help at this time. I can see it only getting worse as the economy gets worse... - 10/16/2008   6:32:11 AM
  • 2
    I'm not so sure skipping an entires day worth of meals will work for me (afraid of the binge fest that would surely follow), but it's a great cause and can certainly find some canned items to donate to the local food bank. Thanks - 10/16/2008   5:28:47 AM
  • CRICKETRO
    1
    I already ate breakfast but I'm planning on skipping dinner for sure. I eat abt 90% locally and buy from the farmer's market all the time. - 10/16/2008   4:49:48 AM

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