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What About This . . .? By Wayne William Cipriano

By Wayne William Cipriano

Positive abundance, in almost any form, is a beautiful thing. I say “positive abundance” to differentiate from abundance in all forms like traffic, or taxes, or housework, where abundance isn’t all that beautiful.

A positive abundance of food is the finest of all things, after air, water, and the loving company of our fellow human beings. I take food abundance for granted. I’ve always had it. I’ve been very lucky. You don’t have to go very far outside the southern border of our country and overseas before food availability slides from abundant, to adequate, to meager, to less.

Unless you are a poorly cared for child, or a vastly mentally/behaviorally disorganized American, it is difficult to starve in our country, even to be very hungry, unless, of course, we are dieting (due to overindulging in our abundant food supply) or lost in a forest.

If we travel to locations outside the United States of America and relatively few “developed countries” and look around, we are struck with the realization that food in so many places is not a given. The reason I mention this is merely to remind myself, and anyone else who cares to be so reminded,how lucky we are to be here, not there.

We went shopping yesterday, just a little after I began to think about our food abundance and was as shocked as I could be seeing something anew that I had seen so many times before by the amount and variety of food that is available to any of us simply by visiting a local food store. Store sizes differ considerably and so the amount and variety of food necessarily do as well, but in our country when amount and variety lessen, it is seldom an availability questions, often a sign of quality increase.

I was so surprised by my “new” food realization that I took the time to notice all that was offered, not just stroll by the displays following Rosalie around. 

In one moderately-sized, fairly inexpensive store, I counted 38 bins of different fruits, fifty-three bins of different vegetables, and one hundred forty yards (not feet, yards) of refrigerated cases of fresh and frozen meat and seafood.

Another store, more upscale and more expensive, offered 48 different types of cheeses. And it wasn’t a specialty cheese shop, just a regular grocery store with an emphasis on variety throughout the store. (I didn’t count anything else. I didn’t want to appear any weirder than I already had counting, as I had, all the cheeses.)

I recall learning about the Soviet Union in the days when it existed, and posed, we were told, a serious threat to our country. I was always amazed that a country so advanced and so dangerous could not alleviate some of its internal problems, like hunger, more adroitly. I laughed when I heard that Soviet citizens stood in lines for hours at foodstores before they even learned what food stuffs would be for sale on any particular day. (“Yipee, it’s rutabaga day!”)

Look at North Korea. Many of its citizens live by eating the bark off of trees and drinking stone tea and yet the country seems to have the wherewithall to become a continuing problem to its neighbors, and we are told, even to us.

When I was in high school I was deeply moved when I learned of the strategy some despots use to keep their populations docile and compliant: starving them right up to the point of revolution. But it is not always a method of social control. There are many places where inefficiency, corruption, stupidity, name any other human failing, conspire to starve people “naturally”, even when enough food just can’t be produced, no matter how well food production is organized to feed the people who live there. Even in good times.

As I pushed Rosalie’s buggies through these stores, I was  humbled at the variety offered to us and shamed by the necessary spoilage and waste that such abundance and variety must cause. And, at the same time, I was grateful that I was born and raised and now live here, where such food abundance and variety is not surprising but expected. And, where a fair day’s wages can buy enough food not only to sustain a person but is available in such variety even at the level of least expense.

I wonder if there is a way that our food overabundance can be somehow shared with our brothers and sisters who, unlike me, happened to be born elsewhere than our wonderful country where that bare necessity of life, food, is not so abundant, not so inexpensive, not so varied?

What do you think? Is there a way?