Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Image from The Hare Krishna Movement (Can you spot the non-vegan food? Krishna is the Butter Thief after all)

My friend says that people like me have a magnifying mind. Whatever I focus on becomes bigger. Once I start looking for things to be grateful for I start finding things to be grateful for. I feel pretty lucky today, it's blowing a gale outside and I'm grateful to have a roof and a heater and some money to make that heater go and some food in the cupboard and family and health and I could just go on and on.

Recently, I've been writing a story that has, rather unexpectedly, required some research into the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Like a lot of people I've always been aware of ISKCON but up until a couple of weeks ago I called it Hare Krishna and had some rather vague ideas about what it was and what it did. Food and Hare Krishna have also gone together in my mind. I think, possibly, 'Krishna food' was the first real vegetarian food I ate (apart from Sanitarium Cornflakes of course). I've been reading a bit about Food for Life. As I said, I've always been aware of Food for Life, but I didn't realise the extent of it. This is from the Food For Life website:

"The distribution of sanctified plant-based meals has been and will continue to be an essential part of India’s Vedic culture of hospitality from which Food for Life was born. Since its inception in the early 70’s, Food for Life has tried to liberally distribute pure plant-based meals (prasadam) throughout the world with the aim of creating peace and prosperity. The Food for Life Global office, directed by Paul Turner, facilitates the expansion, co-ordination and promotion of prasadam distribution throughout the world. The project started in 1974 after yoga students of Swami Prabhupada became inspired by his plea that 'no one within a ten mile radius of a temple should go hungry!' Today Food for Life is active in over 60 countries."

Food for Life serves up to 2,000,000 meals a day and has been served after the 2011 Japan tsunami, the 2010 Pakistan flood and Haiti earthquake, in Bangladesh, Gujarat, Chechnya, Sarajevo and New Orleans.

Reading about Food for Life made me think about the simple and profound  act of feeding people. It made me think about how many  organisations are involved in this amazing service.

The Wellington City Mission and Salvation Army provide an emergency service which assists people who are struggling to feed themselves.

Kaibosh New Zealand's first food rescue organisation redistributes food that's good enough to eat but not good enough to sell to charities around Wellington.

The Free Store (which is currently closed while it's new premises are being fitted out) is a volunteer-run not-for-profit organisation that redistributes perfectly edible surplus food to those that determine themselves in need of it, right here in the heart of Wellington City.

And even round our area there seems to be a lot of activity around getting food to people. Our local bread shop gives away bread once a week. There is also often free food outside 128 Abel Smith Street. We also have a bit of an unofficial food network at our school. There are a couple of families who have fruit trees which give way more fruit that they can use. When the fruit is ripe they often extend an open invitation to come and pick apples, pears and the like. We still have a couple of bottles of pears from our last harvest. I've also noticed that people are often dropping round food to each other. We have a new baby in the neighbourhood and there seems to be a steady stream of people carrying in pots of soup and loaves of bread and even some sweeter treats.

I realise that although people feeding people sounds wonderful and simple it's not. There are plenty of people who can't access these services who need them. I was at one of these organisations the other day and I noticed,  for the first time in ages, how many crucifixes were up and I suddenly thought about my past self and how much fear and disdain I had for the Christian church and how hard it would have been to approach anyone from the church and ask for help. I was bought up in a house that was quite suspicious of anyone offering something for nothing, especially if they were attached to a church. Religion aside, there are lots of other barriers which make it impossible for people to access help ... I want to say 'but' now, 'but it's a start' or 'but they're there' but, yeah, I just can't bring myself to. I think it's very complicated, and I'm really interested that even now, in these complicated times the simple and profound act of trying to feed is still so relevant and there are still many people involved in it from neighbours to worldwide aid organisation.

With ISKCON on my mind, here is a recipe for EASY INDIAN DAHL WITH SQUASH, BROCCOLI AND SPINACH which seems to fit this cold, cold night, from A Conscious Kitchen which is a great blog full of vegan, largely gluten-free recipes.

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