food justice.

This post is a little different than most of my posts on here. I typically give updates on life with August–telling about his milestones and how we are consuming our days with him. But, I thought I’d share a bit of what has been on my mind lately.

Today in church, we heard a powerful message from famous pastor, Eugene Cho. He talked about living a life of justice and how as Christians we need to accept God’s radical love for us before we can show love to others. When thinking of justice, he talked about living intentional lives that focus on people in all different aspects of life.

After church, we went home and ate lunch. I had a romaine lettuce salad with grilled chicken, black beans, corn and all organic salad dressing. August ate greek yogurt with pumpkin, organic Mac n Cheese with some fresh organic raspberries.

I put August down for a nap and then headed to the grocery store (while Chris stayed home, of course). I first went to Aldi where I purchased almond milk, frozen fruit, organic applesauce, green and red peppers, some chicken and ground turkey, among a few other things, I spent about $54. I then went to Meijer, where I bought tortilla shells, wheat bread, produce (tomato, onions, peaches, apples, bananas, etc.). I again, spent about $50. I spent about $104 for enough food to feed my family of three for just over a week.

While checking out in line, there was a young (teenage) couple next to me. The young woman was also a mom. From their outward appearance, they were poor. I examined their shopping cart and it was chuck full–so full there wasn’t space for additional items. Full of frozen foods, prepackaged dinners, twinkles, Gatorade, chips, etc. There was not a single fruit or vegetable in their cart. They were ending their order around the same time I was. I overheard them rejoicing that they got their shopping bill down to $65. I stopped in my tracks. They spent about $15 more than I did and got triple the amount of food. They walked out with a cart full of shopping bags, whereas I walked out with four bags in hand. I am assuming that part of that food was purchased with their Bridge card.

It breaks my heart that there is such large food gap, in an age where we have access and huge platform to educate. I’m not sure how I can help play a role in providing quality food for the poor, but what I do know, is that I care. I care about the health of this one particular young family. I care that the food they are feeding themselves and their young child is more harmful than they know. I care that they aren’t being given access to healthy “real” food.

I hate that fresh food is so expensive. I hate that because Chris and I were given the privilege of being born into the families we were born into so we have access to a whole different system then others. I hate that there are millions of families stocking up on “fake” food just so they feel full and don’t go hungry. Ultimately, I hate that justice and health are so trendy right now. Shouldn’t we be fighting for food equality and social justice because that is what God calls us to, rather than falling into a “fad”.

With every soapbox I stand on, I try to think of a solution. I guess for now, my solution is to care. To care for those people and care enough to try and walk alongside others. To care enough to talk about it with others and make small steps to surround myself with people who are different than myself. Would you join me in caring too?

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7 thoughts on “food justice.

  1. I feel the same in most aspects of this latest post – except – for one thing. People with a bridge card can go to any farmers market and or grocery store and buy those fruits and vegetables and fresh meats. They are choosing to not buy healthy and instead to buy junk food which honestly costs far more than eating healthy. I guess more education is needed. I believe that everyone qualifying for a bridge card should be required to go to nutrition classes, and classes on healthy cooking and shopping. My rant is now over! 🙂

    • That is true. Bridge cards do work at farmer’s markets, etc. More education is needed, yes. I would love to sit down with some lower income families and talk about why they aren’t at farmers markets. Whenever we go to the farmers market in Holland, it is rare for me to see people of color and monitories carrying around their tote purchasing organic kale. On a whole, farmer’s markets are very much a “social experience” for the upper middle class (myself included). Food is just a small glimpse into the whole issue of poverty and generational poverty at that. We are often quick to say “they” need to do a, b, and c…but there is a deeper root to it all.

  2. There are so many more issues, I believe than people just “choosing” not to buy healthy food. The lack of education and possible tools to prepare it (correct spices–which are VERY expensive, cookware, time etc.). Also, factors such as transportation to places like the farmers market and availability to be free at times when the farmers market is open. Many people working blue-collar jobs do not have Saturday mornings and Wednesday mornings off, they are busy working. One thing that I just noticed today in Church is that local area food pantry’s are asking for healthier donations…and made a point to request these. Whole wheat bread and pastas, oatmeal, low sodium canned goods, fruits caned in their natural juices, etc. They are hoping that by providing those items, the recipients will in turn by those items for themselves when they are able. Because if a 3 year old has been fed at a food pantry for his/her whole life; high sugar, salt items with white bread, then that is likely what his/her parent’s will purchase for him when they are able–factors increasing generational poverty.

    • You bring up so many great points! Poverty is so much more deeply rooted than what we think. Our “white privilege” stops us from fully understanding the whole scope of the issue. And that is a other other topic for a blog post that I’m not smart enough to write! 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. I read an article in National Geographic recently that was equally heartbreaking with no real solution about basically that exact same subject. I don’t know the answer but I do know that I care too. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thank you for sharing this, Amanda. I always enjoy hearing about families who value eating well and are willing to go the extra mile to seek out products that support local, sustainable, and healthful practices. I also LOVE what Rebecca wrote because I firmly believe that food and eating is an extremely complex decision for every person. In addition to cost, time, and accessibility there are deeply rooted emotional factors and cultural values that play a role in what people choose to eat. Many times people won’t see reason to change their lifestyle habits until their patterns of unhealthy eating result in serious health consequences, and even then change can be extremely difficult.

    And yes, education is needed. Applicable education- for the families and individuals that need someone to encourage them as they learn how to cook differently, shop differently, acquire a taste for new foods, and argue with their children about eating these new foods! I love that this is something that you’re passionate about, Amanda. And if you have the time to seek out resources (Thrifty Food Plan, low cost/ low time recipes suggestions, etc.) to help the families that you care about in your community, I think that would be amazing. I think even seeking solutions for the things that deter families from making healthier choices (cost, time, taste, etc.) would be helpful, even as you talk with people in every day conversation.

    No parent wants to feel like they’re making poor choices for their children, especially when they feel like they’re doing the best they can. If meal time is a struggle, they’re often patting themselves on the back (and rightly so) for getting anything at all into those empty tummies. I’m thankful to be able to talk with families about healthy eating as part of my career, and I love learning from families as they share their experiences about seeking to eat better and live healthier lives. It can be a struggle, but encouragement from someone who truly cares is a blessing!

  5. http://syracusegrows.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=2
    Thank you, Amanda, for this very thoughtful post! Just to let you know some of what is being done about food justice….and maybe something like this is in your area as well. Urban farming is the initiative to use vacant city lots and grow food there – inviting the local people to share in the work and in the harvest. This means the fresh procuce doesn’t require transportation or a Bridge card. However, the “farmers” who are doing this also hold classes…teaching nutrition and cooking skills. The website link above is the program in my city and just one example.

    I do appreciate the comments about the cultural complexities of this issue. So very true! And not quickly changed.

    I so appreciate your posts, Amanda! So sorry to be a silent reader for so long. Hope you’re doing well. And keep writing!

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