© Jacquelyn Johnston, M.Ed., Diabesity Coach.
Lunch time: the conference was at one of the poshest hotels in Vancouver. Armed with a large sandwich from the conference, twice the size of my appetite, I slipped out at lunch time for some fresh air when I was dismayed to see a disheveled man in a sleeping bag lying right there, on the sidewalk. I placed the sandwich by him, having been beaten to it by someone who had placed a large, fresh, hot coffee there.
This didn’t happen in some third world country. It happened in our beautiful, prosperous metropolis. One that has a host of social services that, by day and by night, caringly tend to the needs of such as him of the grimy sleeping bag. Yet there he was, probably one of those who preferred his independence to the constraints of life in a shelter. A free spirit in a shackled body. A metaphor for the First World and the Third.
I’m telling you this not because I gave him a sandwich. Any one of you would have done that, and more. Me and the coffee person were not doing an act of charity. It was an act of justice.
On World Food Day, today or tomorrow depending on the time zone you live in, many concerned people will gather at teleconferences, at on-line as well as face-to-face events to solve the problem—or should I say challenge—of hunger in the world. It is a problem of equity and justice. Will you be in any of them?
I remember, in the eighties, being introduced in Rome, Italy, to some wonderful people from a Third World country, who told me about a catastrophic flood they had experienced. As desperate survivors clung to trees above the raging rapids the FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation) had dropped waterproof parcels of meal replacement biscuits called “Nutribisk” in fields so that starving victims could have something to eat right away. Each biscuit encased the nutritional equivalent of a meal with meat and vegetables. Something like our meal replacement bars, but smaller.
That was a neat idea, and obviously one that met with much cheering and appreciation by the recipients. I actually got to taste some Nutribisks; they were really good. (They were manufactured in Rome, where the FAO’s HQ is.
That being said, I think we need to be sure that everything we send to countries in need is relevant and ethically correct in the long term.
In checking the diabesity statistics I was horrified to see that Type 2 diabetes is epidemic not only in North America but also in emerging economies. 151 million people in the world had diabetes in 2000. By 2010, (that’s in a few months!) 200 million worldwide will have it, and the figure could look more like 300 million by 2020.
To many emerging nations we in the donor countries are exporting seeds, grain, and—you guessed it—fast food. Could it be we’re exporting diabesity?
I invite you to continue this discussion with me on Facebook.
You can also tell me what you think in the comment section of this blog.
See you there.
Jacquelyn Johnston M.Ed.
Professional Health Coach and Educator,
Solutions and Support for Optimal Health
Richmond, B.C. Canada