Giving gratitude for bologna and the question, “When did you lose your racial innocence?” may not seem related but stick with me.
Season One Hey, Boss Lady! guest, Tiffany R. Warren, shared that question and since that show I found myself using that question in several forms to hold myself accountable. Most recently I asked myself, “When did I realize I never had to question where my next meal was coming from?” When did I realize that all the talk about food insecurity, food deserts, the nutritional quality of school lunches, meals on wheels, etc. were theoretical policy issues for me, but not something I or my loved ones ever faced.
I have been playing with that personal exploration, of course, because my beloved FEAST led by my even more beloved daughter Dana Rizer, is in the midst of a $10 Challenge. The challenge is to develop a meal — just one meal — for a family of four wherein all the ingredients cost no more than $10. At first, I thought that was the only way I could participate in the challenge and I was at a loss.
I notoriously overspend on groceries and make enough food to serve the five invisible guests who just might end up at my door at dinner time each night. For the record, no such guests have ever shown up and I constantly have a refrigerator filled with leftovers.
But back to my self-reflection. Even after I learned that I could just donate $10 (or more of course) and I did not have to come up with a recipe, I was haunted by my inability to consider the challenge. My wondering leads me to a memory of a seminal moment at lunch in my freshman year of high school (circa 1969).
Picture this. Not only have I never been food insecure, but I was also overweight most of my growing up years. My Dad never made much money, but he did own a butcher shop until my sophomore year of high school (dispelling the myth that all people who own businesses are rich). My Dad’s butcher shop was as much a family social works program as it was a business. He employed his nephew and brother and tried to even get my brothers involved to no avail. Yet it was my Dad’s access to meat that explained a lot. He did not make much money but he could take it out in trade by keeping us well-fed.
The moment of learning for me came by way of a bologna sandwich — made just the way my Dad loved them: on Wonder White Bread (which had so many preservatives I believe if I found that sandwich today it would still be fresh), lots of Hellman’s REAL mayonnaise, and about 8 oz. bologna. Lest you think I am exaggerating about the 8 oz., let me dispel that notion. You see at lunch that day in high school I sat next to Debbie. Debbie had a bologna sandwich on white bread too. As I spied her sandwich I noticed something. She had two pieces of bread just like me, but her sandwich consisted of 2 slices of thinly cut bologna. Two slices of bologna! I stared at her sandwich, I looked back at mine — all ½ inch thick with bologna— and a mental note was made. Back then the note was “poor Debbie”. Today I know I was the one who needed some care!
What I know now is that quantity does not equal quality. Quality equals quality.
This brings me to FEAST, Hey, Boss Lady! Podcast guests, Nadia Hansen, Top Chef Tom Colicchio and Kema Ogden. I support FEAST, HBL supports FEAST, Tom Colicchio supports FEAST (and many other organizations). Nadia and Kema each have nonprofits or projects that help others. All learned that being grateful intensifies when you give. The science of positive psychology supports that stance. Feeling grateful when you give is no bologna.
Fun Fact: Wonder Bread was created in 1921, the year my Dad was born!
Looking for other ways to support? Visit feastforall.org/donate10 to donate!
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