I am Thankful .......

on Monday, February 04, 2008

I noticed a significant drop in the number of visitors to my site and the numbers of comments left over this last weekend. I wondered at first, why this was so. Then I realised that this was the Super Bowl XLII weekend in the United States. I do not know much about American football but it seems the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots.

I once watched the Canadian version of the game with a fan who was trying to explain to me why grown men get dressed and padded up to beat each other into a pulp over a ball. I remember most of the time, the game reminded me of two rams clashing horns and doing brain damage. I was also perplexed by the large number of times the referee/umpire blew the whistle. My friend explained that this whistle was for "offside", that whistle was for "stepping out of bounds" and the next whistle was for "movement at the back end" .....how fascinating. Then, another whistle and to my query, my friend replied,"Oh, that's the break for TV commercials." I have to say, I have never come across a game that is played to the timing of TV commercials.

Anyway, I digress. I wanted to highlight that Super Bowl Sunday is second only to Thanksgiving for the amount of food consumed. Here are some statistics from Associated Content : -

Americans consumed 15,000 tons of chips or equivalent of six feet of chips per American. Even though popcorn is almost as light as air, 5,000 tons was consumed; enough to make a popcorn string long enough to go round the world more than 5 times. 12 million pounds of avocado went into making 8 million pounds of guacamole. Approximately USD 55 million was spent on food for that day.

Interestingly, anti-acid sales on the following day at 7-11 outlets will go up by 20% and 6% of working Americans will call in sick on Monday.

The title of my post is "I am thankful....". I am thankful because this same weekend, I learnt about a very different food consumption story and I am just thankful that I do not have to eat mud pies.

I remember making mud pies when I was very young as a play activity and we would pretend to eat mud pies. It really upsets me to learn that for some people in the world, mud pies has become all the food that they can afford to eat on a daily basis.

I refer to the situation in Haiti where crop failures and inflation has forced many people to rely on mud pies because they can no longer afford the normal staples. Mud pies are made of dirt taken from a central plateau region, mixed with water, salt and vegetable shortening. The batter is shaped into thin biscuits and dried in the sun. Even the price of the dirt has gone up and costs USD 5 for enough to make 100 mud pies. The price of a mud pie or cookie at the market is only 5 cents as compared to 60 cents for 2 small cups of rice.

Let's be clear, this phenomena has arisen out of desperation amongst the poor of Haiti. Eating mud pies provides barely any nutritional value at all but it does help stave off hunger. People who eat it are likely to suffer other problems like stomach pains and in the longer term malnutrition. I hope that the world will wake up to the tragedy unfolding there and in so many parts of the world and act to end the disparity between those who have food to waste ( I get really annoyed at the wasteful food pranks on MTV Spring Break programs) and those who are resorting to feed themselves and their children dirt.

Can we stand by and allow food to be diverted from feeding fellow humans and set it aside to create biofuels to run our cars? What do we tell them? Sorry? Our cars got to eat too? The USD 55 million spent on junk food for a single Super Bowl Day could have bought 183 million cups of rice which would have been enough to feed every Haitian for almost a fortnight.

The famous saying attributed to Queen Marie Antionette of France, "Let them eat cake." , comes to mind. It has often been quoted to demonstrate her callousness and her lack of understanding or perhaps concern about the plight of the common people. I hope that our current generation will be judged similarly for allowing the Haitian people to "eat dirt".

I am thankful......that I have never needed to eat mud pies. Aren't you?

The hand of a woman is covered in mud as she makes mud cookies on the roof of Fort Dimanche, once a prison, in Port-au-Prince, Friday, Nov. 30, 2007. Rising prices and food shortages threaten the nation's fragile stability, and the mud cookies, made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening, are one of very few options the poorest people have to stave off hunger. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

18 comments:

blackcrag said...

Marie Anoinette replied said 'Let them eat cake' when she was told the poor had no bread to eat. It wasbn't callousness but the cluelessness the nobility had of the poor's daily life. The French Revolution happenned soon after.

The mud pies sadden me. Maybe Haiti needs a revolution too.

citizen of the world said...

Oh, my. Yes I am thankful but I am grieving for those who must. That is so sad.

meggie said...

It is such a disgusting thing, to think that the greedy 'haves' of the world, can eat junk food & wallow in their fat, while people starve. The long term health risks to those people of Haiti must be very grim. I always feel so sad for the mothers who have to watch as their children starve- often, to death.

maggie's mind said...

Heartbreaking.

leslie said...

That is disgusting and sad.

mago said...

Mud pies.
I know of people having eaten grass being in captivity, but not mud.
I see it as a sin to make fuel from grain. It is totally wrong to destroy food or to burn it.
I thought in Haiti they finally had gotten rid of Papa and Baby and their creatures. What went wrong? Have to have a look.

Dave said...

"Canadian version of the game.." Sheesh! And I thoughtthat Canadian Football was distinctly original! ;-)

The biggest difference between Football and the American version is that the American league gets to run 10 yards less to achieve a touchdown. There are also a few other rule differences that make Canadian Football a little bit more strategic at times.

... And you are right - I think a lot of bloggers found a drop of readership. Well.. I think we are all back! :-)

Molly said...

I read about that too LGS. It is shameful the waste that goes on in the world. You would think America would be ashamed to make a hobby of eating when so many of their fellow men are starving. Another mind boggling dollar amount is what advertisers are willing to pay to have their ad running during the superbowl. For the record, I didn't watch, mainly because I have no interest in watching grown men do brain damage to each other---and get paid unbelievable sums of money for so doing...

Claire said...

Have you read Mountains Beyond Mountains? -A very moving book written by a doctor dedicated to helping Haitians.
(btw- The whistle is not blown for commercial break but for a time out, at which time a commercial is played. Each team can use up to 3 time outs per half of the game. The proper use of time outs is a strategy for winning the game.

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

I wondered where everyone was over the weekend as well - thought it was Mardi Gras! Good post...!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

blackcrag,
Thanks for the correction on dear Marie's attitude. As for Haiti, it's had its revolution but conditions seem to have deteriorated further. Yet just across the island, the Dominican Republic is bountiful and peaceful.

cz,
I am horrified that they are paying to eat dirt. It is so very sad.

meggie,
Could not agree with you more. I could not bear watching my child starve to death. It would be soul wrenching.

Becky Wolfe said...

Well, I made a beef roast for Superbowl sunday and some church friends came over for sandwhiches (and some of those over consumed chips) Not an american football fan really, and I prefer the canadian version of the game but it was a good time to have friends over.
however, the reminder that we are an over-consuming (and overweight) nation is rather fitting to follow up those consumption statistics with the Haitian mud pies. How tragic that they can't even afford the rice. We should be thankful for all that we over-consume and be ever reminded that there are so many less fortunate!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

maggie,
It is just that.

leslie,
:(

mago,
The country is bound up in corruption and witchcraft. Fear abounds and everyone acts for their own self interests. Haiti was the first place that slaves won their freedom but it has come to this. Yet on the same island, Dominican Republic is by comparison peaceful and full of bounty.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

dave,
I know you Canadians like to think that your football game is more strategic. However, for me, rugby wins hands down.

molly,
well, as someone who enjoys food, I am not knocking people enjoying food but I thought we would do well to remember those less fortunate. But if you have seen the silly pranks and games on MTV Spring Break shows, you will understand that those are an obscene waste of food. As for sports,I prefer rugby where they do brain damage to each other but in a far more elegant and artistic manner and they get paid next to nothing!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

claire,
Thanks for the correction on the football rules. I have not read that book, I'm sorry to say.

julie,
Thanks for the comment and for visiting. I think the main reason many were away was the Super Bowl but you are right, Mardi Gras was this week too.

becky,
As i said in my reply to Molly, I am not knocking people enjoying their food, being a food over-indulger myself. But it is good to be reminded about those less fortunate than ourselves.

Josie said...

LGS, Phinnaeus was telling me last night that the kids had a cookie baking contest at school. They gathered into groups and had a contest. He said they resulting cookies tasted like mud. And now I read about those poor folks in Haiti who do indeed have to eat mud, and it makes Phinnaeus's story sound not very funny at all. How can such a thing go on in this world? And what can we do to help?

Odat said...

That breaks my heart!
Peace

MedStudentWife said...

These things just boggle my mind.. what can I do to help ?, but its so big

*sigh*

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