A Place at the Table

Context: This is an assignment for my Nutrition Through the Life Cycles class. We were supposed to watch the documentary A Place at the Table and write a one paragraph response.
A one paragraph response is going to be difficult, if not impossible. I wrote down a page of notes and a lot more went through my head as I watched the documentary. Just from seeing the cover I had feelings come up. It says, “From the people that brought you Food, Inc.” Food, Inc. is a documentary that changed my life a few years ago. It is what led me to becoming a vegetarian and sparked my interest in nutrition. I was ignorant of the insane and inhumane treatment of animals on so-called “farms”. Since then I have watched just about every food documentary that I could get; including Food Matters, Hungry for Change, Forks Over Knives, Fresh, In Organic we Trust, etc. and my Facebook newsfeed is mostly posts from 100 Days of Real Food and Food Babe bloggers. I was excited about this assignment.
The little girl, Rosie, in the film said, “Sometimes I feel like I’m going to barf because I feel so bad. But I don’t know what to do,” when talking about when she and her family go hungry. This really got me.There isn’t much she can do because it is a systematic problem, not one that she can solve for herself. With approximately 23.7 MILLION Americans living in food deserts, mostly urban areas, there needs to be a national change in the way things are. When people have access to real foods (such as fresh fruits and veggies), they tend to enjoy them and it’s frustrating that they’re not available, or at least as available as canned raviolis and chips which are highly processed and low or void of nutrients. Processed foods are cheap. Why? Because the basic ingredients (soy, wheat, corn, etc.) that are used to make processed foods are subsidized, but real foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts are not. This is going to be the END OF REAL FOODS if it is not stopped. Even if the government decided to subsidize fruits and vegetables, that would increase the use of genetic modification to cheapen the process and protect assets.
With the availability of processed foods full of trans fats, sugars, GMO’s, and high fructose corn syrup, our nation is underfed and obese. People think of malnutrition and hunger as being manifested as severe emaciation and a skin-and-bones appearance, but that’s not the case. Kids who are malnourished have behavior disorders, difficulty focusing in school, and are often overweight, among other issues.
It brought me to tears when the church in the film fed a hot meal on Wednesday nights to about 180 people in their community, but how can religious institutions be expected to feed the people and solve the issue of hunger for the government? Religious institutions such as churches get no help or funding from the government. They are even actively rejected by the government in many ways today.
Jeff Bridges made the point, “It’s a little difficult to be telling some other country how to handle hunger when we’re not handling it ourselves.” Nutrition education is seriously needed. My grandmother teaches children from low-income families living way below the poverty line, and she brought in fruit for them one day and one of her students asked what an apple was because he had never seen one. Kids need to know about fruits, nuts, and veggies. They need to know the what, the where, and how. Urban gardening is a solution for food deserts and food education. One can take part in their community, learn about real and nutritious foods, and take pride in work they’re doing for their community, and foods grown in a community garden may even be sold at a local farmer’s market to raise funds to expand the gardens. Canned food is not the answer to this complex issue.