Stewardship of Life


SNAP to it Food Stamp Challenge—Day 23

Posted in Just Living by Sharron R. Lucas on June 23, 2010

Oily Plastic Headache Edition

I’m finding it hard to concentrate on the SNAP Challenge today; in fact, I’ve been thinking so hard my head hurts. There is only one week left to go, but the deeper I dig into the topic, the bigger the issue becomes. I know, I should probably follow the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep it simple, Sharron), but whenever humans are involved life just isn’t simple because we weave some pretty tangled and interconnected webs.

Hunger…o.k., I get that. Person A has too much while Person B has too little. We introduce a plan to help person B eat while also helping Person A get rid of the excess food X. Sounds simple, right? Go back and read the history of the SNAP program to see how simple became complicated. Even with all of our good intentions and helpful ideas, there are still too many “Person Bs” without enough to eat.

Now we add a layer of technology for added complication in the name of progress. No longer do immigrants from Norway subsist on Lutefisk while crossing stormy Atlantic seas in wooden ships. Now we buy it wrapped in plastic for a holiday treat. If we want a banana, all we have to do is fire up our car, burn a little fuel and buy some at the grocery superstore. Those little greenish-yellow jacketed fruits have a pretty big carbon footprint, but that doesn’t stop us from getting our potassium in our smoothies or our organic spring mix salad encased in plastic. You can even buy a fresh coconut in New Rockford, North Dakota almost any time of the year! Oh, and do you know how hard it is to find condiments in glass now? If you do find them, you’ll pay a premium. The rationale I’ve heard behind the increased use of plastic is that it’s easier and less cumbersome with less breakage in transit. Sound like progress to you?

Wonder where this conversation is going and why it seems to have departed from SNAP budgets and refrigerator contents? Don’t worry, I plan to circle the barn and get back on topic eventually, but in a way this is sort of the same topic because it’s all part of a bigger problem.

Today I was reading The Christian Science Monitor online, and I saw the article about the Gulf oil spill reaching Pensacola. That hit really close to home for me because my family has spent a lot of time on the Gulf beaches, and the pictures made me feel sick—and complicitous. My desire for cheap oil and convenient groceries and petro-chemical cosmetic products has contributed to the current state of affairs in the Gulf of Mexico. My need, my greed, and my sin are part of the problem, whether I like it or not. Click here to read what Episcopal Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori had to say in a May 26, 2010, Huffington Post article.

Now back to SNAP! I’m thinking how hard it is for me to make a difference and improve my purchasing and usage habits. I try, but I’m still nowhere close to where I need to be, and I’m an overly-educated, underemployed, definitely privileged tree hugger. Imagine how much more difficult it is for the average person who deals with need and poverty each and every day, not just as an exercise or challenge but as reality. That person may not be able to drive to an organic grocery or farmers’ market where he or she can buy mustard and mayo in glass containers or beans and oats in bulk. In fact, that person may be so worried about how to buy enough gas to get to work or to take a sick kid to the clinic that the idea of reducing or at least recycling all that plastic isn’t even a blip on the mental radar screen.

Like Bishop Jefferts Schori says, we ARE all connected. The choices I make and the things I do affect you and countless others. What you choose to do affects me and folks halfway around the world. Ultimately, it’s all about stewardship, and it’s complicated. That’s why I have a big, fat oily plastic headache today, but it’s also why I’ll get up in the morning and try again to make my own little bit of difference in humankind’s vast sea. How about you?

State of the Pantry

Like a broken record…leftovers, leftovers, leftovers (for which I am grateful, thank you very much). We did eat the last bag of micro-zapper popcorn tonight that was a gift when we moved in, and yes, it was wrapped in plastic.

Website(s) of the Day

Click here to read the work of one of my favorite bloggers, Beth Terry, of Fake Plastic Fish fame. For a solid essay on potential dangers of our growing plastic dependency, click here to read Jan Lundberg’s “Plastics: Your Formidable Enemy.”

Photo Credits: Migraine Chick, siftnz, (Creative Commons License) and Christian Science Monitor

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