"The fed versus the unfed. What else is there in the history of the world?" -Mary Ruefle
Poet Mary Ruefle said this rather nonchalantly at the end of a reading I attended in February, but it stuck with me. It's a heavy question. Food, after all, is one of the three essentails—the other two being water and shelter—that we need to survive at the most basic level, and the lack of food has dire consequences on the mind and body.
As a well-fed food blogger, my hunger pains are not severe. Sometimes I forget to bring a snack for the afternoon slump at work, or the lack of reservation at a restaurant forces me to wait longer than I would like for a meal. I have the means, the access, and the ability to make healthy choices for myself and my family without a lot of stress involved. Any stomach grumbling I experience are temporary, and nothing to complain about when 50 million Americans don't know where their next meal is coming from.
When you think about hunger, you might envision a malnourished child in the Horn of Africa. Famines cause great peril and are widely publicized in the media, but it's the everyday hungers that are more common, and go largely unnoticed. That's why it's so important to pull back the veil on this issue and take steps to do something about it.
Many of the 50 million Americans who are food insecure participate in the nation's food stamp program, SNAP, that supplements their food budgets with an average of just $4 a day. Add to this that our government subsidizes corn, wheat, and soy products instead of vegetables, so the most affordable food items in a grocery store are often the unhealthiest. Add to this that our schools are allocated an average of $1 per child to prepare lunches. Add to this that poverty and obesity are tightly linked. A new documentary, A Place at the Table, illuminates these issues, and I encourage you to see it either in your hometown, or on demand on Amazon and iTunes.
Even though the issues are complicated and overwhelming, the worst thing we can possibly do is sit still. We have a voice, and together we can make a difference. I truly believe this. I know that being "political" is uncomfortable for some people, but it turns out that certain issues, hunger among them, are almost impossible to solve without political will.
That's why I created Food Bloggers Against Hunger, because we're stronger together than apart. If you've ever felt like your voice wasn't strong enough alone, today's the day to join forces with thousands of people who are sending letters to Congress. It takes all of 30 seconds, and by adding your name, we'll be flooding the inboxes of our elected officials, supporting Share Our Strength, and helping ensure that hunger remains in the spotlight this year.
I hope this post has given you some food for thought, and please, please consider sending a letter to Congress today, asking that SNAP funding be protected, and anti-hunger legislation become a priority on the national agenda.
AVOCADO AND CUCUMBER SANDWICH
One of the challenges facing many Americans is that the most affordable food on grocery store shelves is the unhealthiest. Budget-friendly recipes are crucial, and this sandwich is one of my favorite simple meals I often pack for lunch. Just two slices of bread, half an avocado, some cucumber, and whatever greens I have in the fridge, but it's satisfying and healthy. When I'm not rushed in the morning, I like to dress the greens in a light spi
2 slices of bread, lightly toasted
1/2 an avocado, smashed and seasoned with salt
Feta cheese (optional)
5-6 slices of cucumber
Spinach or other greens
Spread the mashed avocado on one slice of bread and top with a thin layer of feta cheese (if using). Add the cucumbers, season with cracked pepper, then place the spinach on top. If you'd like a little tang, dress the spinach lightly with a mustard vinaigrette, or add a squeeze of lemon. Slice and serve.