through the anthroscope

hey! no scowly faces!

we had a deal: no promises and no apologies.

i spent most of yesterday in the post office.

well, three different post offices, to be exact.

it stands to reason this post is late.

anyway, everyone knows that tuesdays, thursdays, and saturdays are make-up days for all the stuff we don't get done on mondays, wednesdays, and fridays.

sundays we just sleep in.

or whatever.


last week i promised you a segment about food heroes.

if you were imagining something like this, i'm sorry.

we're not talking about that kind of hero. (though i do love those photos!)



as a society, we are becoming increasingly global.

with the continuous advancement of technologies, it is becoming more and more difficult to define ourselves, and therefore our personal responsibilities, through nationalism.

our virtual worlds are redefining our physical worlds.


this calls into question many things: our participation or lack of participation in aid work and global politics, our penchant for virtual participation, and our abhorrence for physical participation.

(i would like to point out that these are typical generational and national stereotypes and are not necessarily accurate. for the sake of our discussion, though, i'd like to use them as a stepping stone.)

how many of you donate money to the red cross through text messages?

and how many of you know cpr and are ready to perform it at a moment's notice or volunteer regularly?

if you answered yes to the first but not to the second, i'm with you there.

many of us have good intentions, but don't have the time, the stamina, or the drive to turn intention into action.

we judge ourselves by our actions and by our intentions.

but we also judge ourselves by the actions and intentions of others.

and we judge others by their actions and, sometimes, their intentions.


so, when we take all of that judging and the above clip into consideration, it becomes necessary to ask ourselves this very important question: what constitutes a hero?


does the very act of doing something against the "norm" create a hero?

or is it the act of taking action where others were not?

i think very few people would publicly announce that they thought the individuals mr. narayanan krishnan is helping do not deserve to be fed or should not receive clean food.

however, that doesn't mean there aren't people thinking that.

and that leads us to our next thought: food as a political tool.


we don't often think of the act of sharing food as polarizing or political, but in many cultures the simple act of sharing a meal or tea or water is fraught with meaning.

by sharing (or not sharing, as the case may be) food, we are making a statement.

and, when looked at through the larger lens of starvation and global poverty, feeding others can become an even larger statement.

it's easy not getting involved.

it's easy to make excuses.

we excuse food waste and food deprivation by belittling our contributions, claiming alternative nationalism, or by putting metaphorical blinders on and resorting to tunnel vision.


we even have rules to reinforce these avoidance tactics.

when i was in culinary school, there was always a lot of food left over after class.

we would make too much. we wouldn't eat it all.

and whatever we didn't eat got dumped, because should we give it to someone who was hungry or donate to a soup kitchen, we would be opening the school up to lawsuits.

(as far as i know, creating a soup kitchen within the school and putting liability waiver forms at the door was never suggested. that would just be logical, and who wants that?)


all of this leads into a theme i'd like to continue to explore over the next few weeks or so: the ways in which food is and isn't a political entity.

we'll be continuing with this theme next monday in a week in the undergrad garth.


because, guess what?

i have notes from soup kitchens and school lunch projects in south africa to share.