There is a small opinion piece in the FORUM today about the observation of one writer who has noticed the terrible waste of food in local restaurants. The writer said that many times entire plates of food are not eaten at all, and the result is that all that good food is thrown away into the garbage.
Two years ago, while visiting relatives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, we made a trip to the Puerto Vallarta "dumps"…..a huge land fill for the entire city around which is the "poorest of the poor" neighborhood. Many of the people who live in that neighborhood spend their days awaiting the garbage trucks that bring in the "freshest" garbage from the city and that includes a lot of food. These "poorest of the poor" pick through the garbage looking for items to recycle and sell, but, also looking for edible food that they can take home to their families.
There is a Christian ministry that our relatives support vigorously year-round, called "The Children of the Dumps" and this ministry has built a small school in that poor neighborhood where the children can attend after-public-school classes to learn English and Computer skills—two educational areas that can help them to get better jobs and help to break their cycles of extreme poverty. The students also receive a hot meal at the school; the ministry also provides a hot meal out at the dumps to the people who spend their day digging in the huge piles of garbage. The day we visited, we went along and helped distribute the meal to the people. It was the most "shutting up" experience I have ever had. I was so shocked by the poverty of those people who lined up with great cheerfulness and great gratitude for that hot meal….hot soup, bread, crackers, cold drinks and fruit and cookies, if I remember correctly. Never have I encountered such poverty; never has it been brought home to me like a sledgehammer blow on the head how much is wasted…especially food….in modern societies, even in a developing nation like Mexico.
From the poor neighborhood near the dumps and from the dump itself, we could see the shining towers of the luxury hotels along the beaches of the Bay of Banderas….just blocks away from the starkest poverty, where extremely wealthy people from many countries… and from Mexico, were dining in the most elegant restaurants, ordering lobster, steak….huge amounts of food served up to them and much of it could be sent back to be deposited in the garbage–later to be picked over by the poorest of the poor, among whom we stayed for a brief time as we helped distribute the hot meal of the day, among the stinking heaps of garbage in the landfill. You can understand why it as a "mouth-shutting" and "mind-blowing" encounter. All of us….tourists to Mexico….spoke little during the distribution of the meal, except to the people who were receiving it and many of them who could not understand either our English or our broken attempts to speak Spanish…. the people smiled and were thankful for the simple meal they got to eat each day…thanks to the ministry of the Children of the Dumps.
Today’s FORUM opinion piece about wasted food in local restaurants took me back, instantly, to that day spend at the Puerto Vallarta dumps. What price might we eventually pay, as a nation, for our disgraceful waste of our riches…..not only food…but all the other valuable things we so carelessly deposit in our own garbage cans and dumpsters????