We are standing at the edge of a cliff.
Our health, our finances, even the very fabric of our families are poised to plunge over the brink.
At our backs is the home kitchen, the family…our lives.
Before us nothing less than total destruction.
We have an obligation, a moral imperative if you will, to regain control of our children’s health, our planet’s sustainability, even our nation’s greatness. We must recapture our ability to take care of ourselves and our families at a fundamental level, to stop, as it were, having someone else feed up the fish, and instead learn to fish for ourselves.
And I believe it starts in the kitchen.
For parents, the priority is that their kids not go hungry. Not having enough food to give your kids has an effect on the parents in that home. I look at my nine year old daughter and think how would I feel if I had to put her to bed hungry and how would I respond to everything else in my life if I had to do that?
I don’t want anyone to go through that. I think there need to be more voices out there bringing this to our attention. There’s something wrong with kids going to bed hungry every night in the richest country in the world.
Much of the problem is in a lack of fundamental education. It really doesn’t matter how healthy a food is, or how inexpensive, people aren’t going to buy what they don’t know how to prepare, especially when money is tight and every dollar has to count.
I’ve had kids in our grocery-shopping field trips tell me that it was the first time they can ever remember being in the produce department, except in passing on the way to the canned, frozen, or “convenience” food sections. Kids in their late teens who couldn’t identify a cucumber from a zucchini.
Do you know what Lima beans, Carrots, Pumpkin (fresh), Sweet potatoes, Collards, Kale, Mustard greens, Spinach, Turnip greens, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Chayote, Pear squash, Eggplant, Okra, Zucchini, and Yellow Squash, all have in common?
They are among the healthiest, least expensive, and simple to prepare vegetables in the grocery store or market. Just about any person who walks the aisles can afford these ingredients. Simple…that is, if someone has taught you. Otherwise they might as well have been grown on another planet.
But if, like many second and third generation families below the poverty line, your only experience with these foods is mushy school lunch carrots and zucchini, cloying holiday “sweet potatoes”, or God help us all…canned spinach…are you going to spend your last few food dollars experimenting with unfamiliar ingredients, or are you going to grab a few boxes of mac & cheese, some frozen chicken nuggets, or maybe some ice cream for a special treat?
And, honestly, do YOU know how to prepare all of these ingredients? Are you willing to bet your child’s opportunity to eat this week on it?
Neither are many, many poor families out there, who, faced with the agonizing decision of something that tastes good even though it’s killing them, and going to bed without anything at all, make the sad, but logical choice that something, anything, regardless of health concerns, is better than nothing, all too common.
This is where our politicians, big food and (yes, I’ll say it) the corporate manipulation of the women’s liberation movement of the sixties and seventies, when anything that got Mom out of the “slavery of the kitchen” was progressive and positive (and lined food manufacturer’s pockets), has gotten us.
From those first glorified c-rations, to the sugar, salt, and dye loaded poison in pretty packages on our store shelves today – greed and laziness have turned what was once the greatest nation on earth into a wheezing, pill-popping country that pours drugs into our hyperactive babies and stomach-stapling our teenage girls to combat the growing epidemic of a society happily starving the brains of our future generations, while eating itself to death so that Kraft Foods can see a bump in their stock price, and give their senior executives seven-figure bonuses.
Throughout history, citizens whose nutritional needs were ignored by the rich and powerful for their own gain, from Rome, to Imperial Russia, to the French Revolution, to the genocides of modern Africa, when pushed to the edge of the cliff have universally responded the same way…
Heads rolled, cities burned, and thrones toppled.
We are standing at the edge of the cliff.
~Chef Perry Perkins
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“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”