in Arts & Culture
The Blessing of Food
What do you believe is "fit" to eat?
Occupy Wall Street Food Tent
Occupy Wall Street Food Tent
Occupy Wall Street Food Tent

[Read more about The Blessing of Food]

One of the greatest lessons I learned during Occupy Wall Street is: There is no shortage of food in this world.

During our time in Zuccotti, all of the food we ate and served was provided without cost from people and businesses that did not need or want that particular food. We had so much of it, that we didn't have to protect it. Food Tent, where I volunteered my time preparing and serving food, was not locked or guarded. Volunteers occupied the tent and the pantry solely for the purpose of distributing food if someone asked for food. To my knowledge, there was not a single incident of "theft" at Food Tent.

The phenomena of food and whether there is enough to eat is truly about perception. What do you believe is "fit" to eat? What do you believe is worthy of being consumed as food?

Well, from personal experience, I have learned that much of the food that we believe is "garbage" or not "fit" to eat is, in fact, healthy, safe and worthy of being eaten. It's merely a matter of proper preparation. The proper preparation of food is a way of living and behaving that stems from two ideas: a) food is intended for eating; and b) food is resilient.

At Food Tent, we didn't have electricity or gas power. Thus, we did not have refrigeration or a stove. This was not a problem, because we had access to water. We received a lot of fresh vegetables that did not look very good, but once peeled and washed, this food was just as good as anything we would have found in a grocery store.

A great deal of the food we served at Food Tent was donated from restaurants and fancy grocery stores that sell and serve food prepared on their premises. The solution? We served the food quickly! As soon as the food was delivered, we presented it for the meal being served at that time.

After Occupy, as I continued my activism and volunteering with the community of people I found during Occupy, I was introduced to something called "Grub". Grub was a cooperative who evangelized the practice of preparing, cooking and consuming "rescued" and "reclaimed" food. Once a month, we'd get together and prepare a communal meal consisting of food that other people had chosen to throw away. Our meals were vegan, free and delicious.

I am newly vegan and I am in the process of learning veganism and what being vegan means. I am of Central American heritage and my childhood included lot's of meat. What I remember about Panamanian cooking is that the vast majority of meat dishes are stews. The meat is cooked for hours and hours until it falls off the bone. Spices are prevalent and pungent. I remember many occasions of the women in my family smelling the meat prior to cooking it to determine the amount of spices necessary to make it edible! Hilarious!

But, now that I think of it, that makes sense, right? In a country such as Panama, very warm and tropical, where many people live without things like refrigerators, meat would be a precious thing to acquire. And, if you were blessed enough to have meat, you would not be so pretentious as to "throw it away" simply because it had a smell, you know?

So, anyhoo...

What am I saying, right? I don't know. I believe what I'm saying is: If you believe you do not have enough and that what you have ought be in the trash, maybe rethink that. Peel that head of lettuce, give it a rinse, chop it and cook it. If you're a meat-eater, invest in some vinegar and spices and make use of that meat you would have thrown away. Maybe you have enough.

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