In my very first Hunger Rumblings post, I gave quick shout-outs to three different formative experiences that had huge effects on my passion for seeking justice, with a promise to follow up with more descriptive information in later blogs. I’ve already covered veganism pretty extensively, but I was reminded of another topic I promised to explore more as I read this post from Dan Ruth on LWR’s blog a couple days ago.

Dan’s remarks focus on the huge privilege of choice. He points out how we have the luxury to choose to devote hours to baking, as well as the luxury to choose convenience and instead throw something in the microwave, doing little to no work for a meal.

He writes, “I have a choice between home-cooked, slow food and microwaved, fast food. Having the option to come home from work and throw a certified organic meat-flavored black-bean patty into the microwave shows how little work I need to do to have a nourished, calorie-filled body. Millions of people around the world spend nearly their entire day, every day, gathering just enough food and water to sustain themselves and their families.”

Like Dan, over the past few years I’ve become a huge lover of cooking. I love perusing recipes, wandering the grocery store aisles and farmers’ market stands for fresh and fun ingredients, spending hours in the kitchen preparing a meal, and then feasting on my careful creation. Dan’s realized how lucky he is to be able to revel in the slowness of bread. I’ve realized how lucky I am to be able to choose healthy food over cheap but nutritionally empty food, to choose from a great variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and to have so many incredible options available to me that I can be adequately – no, abundantly – nourished even while completely avoiding animal-based foods.

OK, back to that formative experience. I promise it relates! The power I have to choose the way I eat hit me hard when I shared a solidarity meal with 17,000 other people at the Urbana09 student missions conference last December. That night each of the 17,000 of us gathered in St. Louis had a small portion of bread, black beans, and two ounces of water for dinner. I will not soon forget the seemingly endless sea of students eating together in that huge hall, all sharing the same simple meal at the same time, intentionally entering into solidarity with people around the world who have little or no access to essential elements to life. While that night the we had no choice besides bread, beans, and two ounces of water, the rest of our lives are characterized by abundant blessings that allow us the luxury of choice. This realization struck me as I walked past the thousands of trays of bread and black beans at Urbana, and helped spur me on a path of becoming more and more aware of the many in our world who cannot make choices about what they eat, who have no access to educational resources about nutrition, and who actually go hungry every day.

Choices about food are only some of the many choices I have the privilege to make. I have the power of choice about my education, work, where I live, how I spend my time and money, and so much more. Dan leaves his readers with this thought: “what I love about the work of Lutheran World Relief (and ELCA World Hunger) is that access to choice, over the long-term, becomes a reality for many people who have never had that opportunity in the past.” I love that too.