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Children Starving in Africa

Note: You can more about the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program here or at

I recently watched Dirt: The Movie!, a documentary about just that – dirt. It explores the effects of certain agricultural practices on the dirt that is our earth’s skin, and that supports us all, and cautions us that if we are not careful, we will lose so much of the topsoil that we will no longer be able to grow enough food to support our ever-burgeoning population. This is a major concern, with many implications. For instance, one of the things that particularly struck me was in looking at one place (I believe in Africa) where there’s no food, or not enough, because of these very issues. The people there live with hunger on a daily basis. One way that they alleviate their hunger pangs, at least momentarily, is to actually make little cakes out of water and dirt. I’ve been thinking a lot about hunger pangs myself recently, as part of my facilitator training for the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program, but in a very different way. We talk a lot about learning to identify when we’re actually hungry, and one of the ways is if we suffer hunger pangs. What’s strange in our culture is that many of us are so disconnected from our bodies that we no longer recognize when we’re hungry or not. Some people eat so constantly that they never feel hunger pangs, or any other symptom of hunger. One of the reasons some of us get to this point is because our parents urged us to eat everything on our plate, sometimes using guilt as a tool by telling us, “There are children starving in Africa.” (Or other country of choice.) I think the intent behind this is to make us feel like we should take advantage of what we have and eat as much as we’re given. But how does it help those starving children if we overeat so much that we forget what it feels like to be hungry? We instead end up getting away from the rhythms of our body, eating even more food, and thereby taking up more resources that we don’t need. I have an alternate suggestion. If you have enough money to buy more food than you will eat, perhaps you could cut back to only what you need. With any money left, put it towards ending hunger, in Africa as well as closer to home. I suspect that would make a much bigger difference towards those starving children and their parents than eating more than we actually need.

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