Privileged Hunger

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In wealthy countries like the U.S., hunger is not really something often brought up because it is not generally a life and death issue here. I have been fortunate enough to grow up in a household where fridges were almost always stocked and putting food on the table was never really an issue. The Lesson 05 Contemplative Practice: Feeling Hunger was an interesting exercise because it was the first time I reflected upon the feeling of hunger in the context of studying causes of world hunger and wasting food. I generally eat only 2 meals per day due to my diet and training regiment, but being accustomed to it, I decided to fast for the day. When focusing on that feeling of hunger during this exercise, I contemplated on the pain and constant urge to eat something to remedy those discomforts.

While I understand that the purpose of this exercise was to put myself in a situation where many less fortunate than I experience, I still knew I had access to food. This is what I call privileged hunger. It was ultimately a choice to starve myself and go hungry for time of my choosing, but there was always food nearby and accessible. It’s hard to imagine the panic and stress of those that go hungry not by choice, but by the circumstances they are placed in. While I was not able to fully immerse myself in the experience of true hunger, I certainly felt more grateful and appreciative for what I have, being mindful not to waste food. After watching Tristram Stuart’s TedTalk The Global Food Waste Scandal, it revealed the global scale of food wasted presents the unfortunate reality we live in and the responsibility we play in further perpetuating world hunger. The statistics he included indicate that with the surplus of food in today’s modern day and age, there is “twice as much food on its shop shelves and in its restaurants than is actually required to feed the American people,” yet the unnecessary surplus in countries that do not need them ends up being wasted (Stuart, 2).

Throughout the whole day of fasting, I had the opportunity to stop fasting at any point in time to grab a small snack or to drive out to buy a full meal. I never felt as though my life was going to be negatively affected or threatened due to starvation. Growing up in a wealthy nation like the United States makes me feel spoiled and fortunate to be in a rich nation that can afford to dump truckloads of unwanted, perfectly edible food off at the landfill on a daily basis without consequence or threat to my wellbeing.

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