There was a documentary on television the other night that has stuck with the Bag Lady. The program was about a Canadian family undergoing an experiment. The family of four had agreed to live on the rations provided through a relief organization to people in need in disaster zones or third world countries. The rations consisted of a bag of cornmeal, a cup of lentils, half a cup of oil and what looked like about a tablespoon of salt. (The Bag Lady may not have the exact portions correct, but that gives you an idea.)
The traditional family (mother, father and 2 young daughters) were willing to live on these rations for three days. Only three days. The mother was a little unsure of how to cook any of the rations, but she did her best. She made cornmeal mush and cooked the lentils. The only one who did not complain was the father. The mother, partway through the second day, was ill from hunger. The younger daughter finally cheated on the afternoon of the second day and had a cup of tea and a scone. Her rationalization was that she was doing gymnastics and wasn't getting enough energy from the rations.
Their rations were cut in half the third day. Apparently this is what has happened with the aid agency - the high cost of food and fuel, etc. has had a detrimental effect on their ability to provide even those meagre rations they had been supplying. The parents in this case did what most parents would do in those circumstances, and gave the children the lion's share of the food.
The Bag Lady found the program interesting, but has to admit, she was perhaps a little disappointed in the family. There were tears, and complaints, and the Bag Lady couldn't help but think; "But, but... you agreed to do this, it was your choice!" They threw away the portions that they didn't eat! In a strange way, it embarrassed the Bag Lady that they would choose to do this experiment, then whine and complain and waste the food.
For breakfast on the day their "ordeal" ended, there was such an abundance of food on their table, it again was almost embarrassing. Eggs, pancakes, fresh fruit... Almost as though they were rewarding themselves after this terrible ordeal they had gone through. That they chose to go through. It was an experiment, a chance to experience what so many others have no choice about.
Here in North America, we take so much for granted. Could any of us survive for 3 days on cornmeal and lentils? We live in a land of abundance; food, fuel, clothing. Our concerns are trivial in comparison to what others are suffering. We make our choices based on want rather than need. Our nations waste an amazing amount of food - just look at what is thrown into the dumpsters behind any restaurant in any city. Stop and think of what you yourself have thrown out in the last week. That last bit of leftover whatever that was turning green in the back of the fridge, or the apple that was a little soft.
And then we donate a little bit of money and pat ourselves on the back for helping those in need.
The Bag Lady finds herself a little confused about how she feels about the experiment. Could she have survived through three days of cornmeal and lentils? She is pretty sure she could. She has survived the cleansing procedure one must go through for a colonoscopy, which is far worse than cornmeal and lentils, she can assure you! Well, unless you have a deep and abiding love for clear broth and jello, and very strong laxatives. (Oops, was that too much information?) Makes cornmeal and lentils sound pretty appetizing!
So, is the Bag Lady totally off the wall? Is she being too judgmental? She admits to being a little confused as to what these people expected out of this experiment, and she wonders now what they learned. She also wonders, a tiny bit, what the point was.