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Abundance vs. Responsibility

Note: To learn more about the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program, visit, or my website.

How do you balance having an attitude of abundance with being responsible?

I’d never thought about this question until this past Monday, when I went to an event for World Food Day hosted by the Maine Gleaning Network. One point that caught my attention was when one speaker said we needed to shift from an attitude of abundance to one of responsibility.

It was interesting because in the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program we talk about cultivating an attitude of abundance, not getting away from it. But we also talk about being responsible.

It felt like there was a disconnect. But when I listened a little more, I realized the two groups might be moving toward the same goal, but coming from different directions.

At the food event, what they were getting at was moving away from a “disposable” mindset. That’s where if food has a little blemish or bruise, maybe doesn’t look perfect, or is a day or two past the expiration date, people might throw it out. After all, they can always buy more.

Or people who buy so much the food does go bad before they can eat it (or for whatever reason they don’t get to it in time). Then they have to throw it out – and buy more.

Oddly enough, sometimes this second example stems not from an attitude abundance but one of scarcity.

If you’re worried that you won’t be able to buy a certain food again, you may feel compelled to buy a lot now. It’s an emotional response, not a rational one.

So it seems like what we really need is a mindset of responsible abundance. One where we’re not scared about running out, where we have some security that food will be available later. And if we have that assurance, we can make more responsible choices about how much we need right now.

I’d say along with this, if you realize you have more than you need or can easily use, perhaps you could share. (I know sharing food can be a challenge for some of us, but it can be a good thing, too.)

As we move towards Thanksgiving, the ultimate celebration of abundance in our culture, perhaps we can also consider how to be responsible with that abundance – and hopefully help others move from scarcity to security.

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