We throw away about 40% of the food we buy and households are responsible for 51% of the waste. Martin Gooch, director of the Value Chain Management Centre says that: “A lot of food waste is an outcome of behavior that is shaped by attitudes that really themselves are based on perceptions of abundance and affluence,” (for the full article please go to http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/how-much-in-food-do-canadians-waste-a-year-think-billions/article4580509/) This is alarming because at the same time we know that 870 million people suffer from chronic undernourishment (http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm) It is easy to just give up and call it a day in light of the enormity of the problem. It is tempting to believe that we can do nothing to change this situation to the better. But we can. The Church presents a way to balance the scales.
If we take Martin Gooch words to heart then our habit of throwing away perfectly good food depends on our attitude towards food and us taking it for granted. We forget to give thanks for the gifts from the earth. We believe that food is cheap and easy to replace. “I decide what, when and how I want to eat.” This attitude is gluttony in the most common form, the overconsumption of gifts given, in both speed and quantity.
Fasting is the antidote to gluttony but as a rule it will only be beneficial if we start from a posture of thankfulness. Thankfulness transforms the obligation to follow the rule into following the rule out of a place of joy. During Lent make it a habit to give thanks to the Lord for every meal you receive. In doing so you acknowledge that you do not take the gifts of God for granted. We admit that we do not only live for our own sakes. As strange as it may seem, fasting begins with giving God thanks for the food He provides. Fasting is not so much about abstaining from food as it is about reviving the purpose of eating. To find the purpose of eating (life) we need a balance to what we put into our bodies. Too much will lead to heaviness on both body and soul as well as apathy. Too little food will lead to a weakness of the body that in turn will lead to the neglect of prayer and charity. The extremes of both will lead to death. In Canada we almost exclusively have an issue with the ’to much’ side of the scale hence Great Lent and some fasting rules cutting our intake of food back, may be to our benefit in terms of understanding how we can honor the gifts God gives to us. During Lent I urge you to give thanks for the food God provides, to eat a balanced diet, to avoid eating in haste, to plan your shopping so that you do not have to throw away food, to invite people to your table, to help and pray for the ones that lacks daily nutrition. Let us enter this season with a hunger for the heavenly manna.