“What did those last grains of rice do to you?”
To this day I hear my mother’s voice in my head, chastising us for leaving the last few morsels of food on our plates. She used to make frozen food parcels for the homeless from good leftovers. The parcels were even personalized for those whom she knew had dogs and would be labeled, “for Terrance and McGuyver (his dog)”. This duo was one of our regulars and they used to sit on the curb enjoying whatever it was, that was once a family meal. In our home, food and water wastage was a big no-no.
As a teenager, I used to roll my eyes and think what a nuisance they are, these vagabonds, who kept coming back like a colony of stray cats. Grumbling under my breath, I would be ordered to make them peanut butter sandwiches when there were no leftovers to give. How selfish was I, who thought that only my little bubble was all that mattered?
Today, food and water wastage will always be high up there on my list of pet peeves. Where I live now there are no homeless people knocking on my door. So I have to get creative with leftovers.
I recently spent a month’s vacation visiting my parents in my hometown of Cape Town, South Africa, where there is a huge water crisis. They had never experienced a drought of this nature before and it has reached critical levels where the dams have almost dried up. They have level 3B water restrictions in place which boil down to no sprinklers for gardens, no topping up of pools without a cover etc. This has created a shift in the mindset of communities even in the affluent areas and has prompted creative ways of conserving water. Buckets are placed in showers to catch water and re-used to water gardens. Borehole and wellpoint water systems are alternative sources of water used for gardens and homes too. And through all of this, I even got to make a sandwich for an old forlorn man waiting patiently at the gate. Nothing much has changed at my parent’s house.
Upon my return to Canada, I found myself inadvertently using less water, closing the tap when not needed, not being obsessive about rinsing dishes for longer than necessary. It doesn’t matter that we live in a country of abundance when thousands of miles away people are scrambling to save their last water reserves. It’s all one planet, just with different land masses that happen to be divided into countries and borders. We do not exist in bubbles and we all need to do our bit towards saving our resources, both food, and water.
Like Jimmy the polydactyl cat says, let’s embrace the earth with kit gloves and be mindful of how we use our natural resources.
I look back fondly at those memories of handing out the food parcels and smile as I think of Toothless Terrance and his dog, McGuyver. There might not be enough food to go around for everyone, but Terrance and MacGuyver treated every morsel as a meal fit for a king.
So, what did those last grains of rice do to you?
Happy Earth Day!