The Lessons of a Picky Eater
As my internship at the World Food Prize is coming to an end, I find myself in a time of reflection. I am reflecting on the path that got me here and reflecting on what I will take with me when I am gone.
As a child, most parents try to drill into you that you should be thankful and humble for the luxuries you are given that others are not. Food is no different. Phrases like, “Eat your broccoli because other children are starving,” are thrown around in an effort to motivate that gratitude. I don’t speak for every child, but I know when I was younger I didn’t dwell on these luxuries that were a part of my everyday life. In fact, I did the opposite. Instead of being thankful for the abundance of food that was at my fingertips, I complained about every item I was forced to eat. I was the pickiest of all picky eaters. I refused to eat hotdogs, hamburgers, peanut butter, fish, pork, steak, strawberries, blueberries, chocolate, soda, and just about everything else but pizza, cantaloupe and frozen waffles. Getting me to eat was a chore, and my parents used to cringe in embarrassment as other parents tried to be accommodating to my picky eating habits.
Thankfully, when I was 15, I had an eye-opening experience that would change the way I think about food forever. I was on a mission trip in San Raymundo, Guatemala, and we were building houses for families in the community. The family that we were building a house for had four kids and lived in a small house with dirt floors and scrap metal as a roof. It broke my heart to think about their family of six cramming into that one space while my family of six all had their own rooms and space to spare.
On our last work day the family wanted to do something special for us as a thank you. They decided to cook us a meal; however, the family didn’t even have a stove. They had to walk all the food they were preparing to their neighbor’s house in order to borrow theirs. They had two chickens grazing in their yard all week that my group and I had played with. However, on that day, the mother grinned proudly, picked them up by their necks, and exclaimed, “Almuerzo!”--the Spanish word for lunch. While my stomach lurched in anticipation of what I was expecting to be a gross experience, I tried to remember that this family was using their only chickens to cook us this meal. This was the ultimate sacrifice for them - food from their own children’s mouths. Food that they did not have in abundance like we were used to in our community. This was how they chose to show gratitude. It was no small thing.
As I sat down to eat, all my memories of forcing down meals and complaining about gross foods came rushing back to me. All I wanted to do was enjoy this meal that had been a sacrifice for this family to give us. The entire family had worked all day on this meal for us and refused to eat it with us, insisting that it was all for us. Now when I look back to that day, I don’t feel nauseous over the meal I had. Instead I find myself craving the authentic chicken and noodle dish that family had made for us. I find myself thinking about what I could do, what difference I could make so that all people have the security of knowing how they will feed their families, where that food comes from and that it will be food that is good for them. I found out years later that these reflections aligned with those of the World Food Prize. I am lucky to be a part of an organization that is making contributions to the fight against world hunger.
Norman Borlaug believed that food is a human right. My time here as an intern has reinforced what I learned that summer in Guatemala. Food is not plentiful for everyone and hunger is not a problem far away that needs to be addressed at some point. It is prevalent and it is growing and all the young, picky eaters in the world need to remember the key point is not that food is fun or tastes good, but that it is a human right, and each morning we need to be thankful that we have something to eat and fight for those that do not. And that is what I will take with me from this internship- the knowledge and awareness of how to carry on this fight.
The World Food Prize and the Hall of Laureates is a world of stories and now I have another one to tell. It comes from a gifted writer, my grand daughter.
Bumpa | firstname.lastname@example.org | 09/09/2019 2:59 PM