some words, handwritten, to go with your morning coffee/ tea

November 21 2013

I'm originally from someplace half a world away. Talk to me about writing, food/ traveling recs, advice on 'breaking into the industry', or just about anything under the sun really. Except math.

It took me a really long time to figure out what to write to you. In the end I decided to include a piece from my blog, written after I watched 'A Place At The Table' with my class. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, too.

Much love x

noon, saturday, spring 2013: just watched 'a place at the table' with my class.

we got to talk to barbie, one of the film’s subjects after the movie, and she made me realize: hunger, homelessness, desperation, need- these are all subjective. she's right, each time we mention poverty we think of emaciated children curled up under the relentless african sun, haunting eyes against dark skin, a mother’s fingers fitting perfectly into the contours of her son’s ribs. but hunger is real and hunger is also here, right here, in rundown towns of the midwest and in food insecure belts without delivery of fresh fruit or vegetables. imagine living in a town where the only fruit available is a bunch of bananas on a grimy store countertop. one bunch for a whole town. imagine never knowing the taste of an apple.

and yet here, in new york: we strut out of whole foods glowing with pride. we carry brown paper bags full of organic berries, cage-free eggs, unsweetened milk, greek yogurt; we wear health-consciousness like a blue ribbon on our chest, thinking, we are better than chef boyardee’s, better than special k, jell-o, doritos, coke. and back home in singapore there are people who buy gold-leaf chocolate ladurée macarons for S$7.60 apiece (i never understood the point of this, the gold leaf is tasteless); they shell out for international food festivals, for french brunches and michelin-starred steak houses. this is how the students of today ‘hang out’- at fancy places like this.

and i’m guilty of it, too, i get excited stepping into a cafe with quaint decor, i think nothing of shelling out $3 for a starbucks mocha; i love brunch, pancakes, things that i can make at home i’d pay to eat at a place with fancy lighting and pretty furniture.

i’m sure we all know what are the things we shouldn’t ever take for granted, but we lose sight of them anyway. we’re all guilty of letting the appreciation of simple things fall in and out of the rhythms of our life. just go with the flow, they say. we’re not on the other side and we just have to make sure we never get there. in today’s world its every man for himself.

i know of people who make fun of americans by hiding behind the stereotype/ generalization that all americans are fat and lazy. look at the excess of the west, the east would say, in a tone dripping of self-perceived moral superiority. look at their portions. look at how much they consume, how unhealthily they eat. but as with every story there is an other side.

'a place at the table' tells us that obesity and hunger are closely linked occurrences— some people are overweight simply because the only foods they could ever afford were junk food— chips, cakes, doughnuts etc. in an ideal world mcdonald's would cost as much as whole foods and vice-versa, but the reality is that the cheapest foods are often tv dinners, canned processed foods, fried snacks, crackers. how else, then, do you expect someone on food stamps to bother about nutrition when they're already struggling to just put some food on the table?

knowing this breaks my heart.

i don’t know about you, but i’m thinking that as the world sets its table for each and every meal, it should make sure that there’s a place for everyone at the table.

Wen Yi
[email protected]
New York, NY

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