Friday, December 12, 2008

A Holiday Season to Remember

By Chris Olson, Outreach Coordinator

I like to eat. In fact I love to eat. You could go so far as to saying that eating is one of my favorite activities. Over the last four months I have rediscovered my love of hearty and delicious meals and realized what a true privilege it is to have a bounty of food in the kitchen cupboards. The Lutheran Volunteer Corps gives each of us $95 for food that we pool together as a house (there are five of us) to buy groceries for the month. This is, in fact, plenty of money to get us through the month nourished and healthy. BUT...and this is a big but for me....I find that I do not have the plethora of food choices that I have had at all other times in my life, nor the general abundance of household food that, previous to LVC, I took for granted. We live on a limited budget which means that we need to get the basics, make sure that we have enough for supper each night, and maybe one extra "luxury" item each week. There aren't many snacks, leftovers, or taste enhancers in our house.

At first it was a struggle for me, especially since my housemates are vegetarians so we do not buy meat (a choice that I wholeheartedly support, although every once in awhile I get a craving for a turkey sandwich!). As the months pass by, however, I am learning to adapt and adjust to the food situation. The new limits have also allowed me space to become thankful for the food I do receive.

Thanksgiving held new meaning for me this year. My housemates and I were invited to the house of a former LVC member to share the day with her and a number of her friends. It was a potluck meal and as I stood in front of the kitchen counter I found myself thinking how thankful, absolutely thankful I was for all the food that was in front of me. It was a shared meal made from the wonderful generosity of 18 different people. I ate my fill that evening and savored every single bite.

Its not often that we are made to face the privilege and prosperity that so many of us blindly grow up with in the United States. For me, food has always been one of those things I have not had to think about. I always had the means to buy whatever I wanted at the grocery store, but for billions of people around the world that is not the case. As I said before we are in no way starving at our LVC house and I do not mean to compare our situation to the truly dire situations of many, but just that LVC is giving me the chance to step back, to think about my place in our global food system. How I eat and what I eat is intimately and ultimately linked with planetary social and environmental justice issues. There is something powerful in living out a way of life that is different from your own. For me, LVC is giving me a clearer understanding of many issues just by placing me in situations that were foreign to me until now. As I think back to my excited anticipation for my Thanksgiving meal and look forward to the many shared meals with family and friends over my Christmas break, I know I will be ever more grateful for the gifts I am given and that this will be a holiday season I won't forget.

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