I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the food issues of my life and our world this week. It’s partly an occupational hazard, working in world hunger. But it’s also just life, and sometimes it hits me harder than others. This week, it’s been a variety of small things that have added up to seemingly constant encounters with the problems and my feelings of insufficiency in addressing them.

Perhaps it started with the spoiled spinach in my refrigerator. One thing I hate is to throw away what should have been really good food, but this bag of organic spinach got away on me. I didn’t get around to using it quickly enough, and when I did finally open it, parts were slimy. This irritates me for a variety of reasons: 1) I wasted money paying for the organic food I didn’t use; 2) I didn’t cook the nutritious meal I had intended when I bought the spinach and instead probably ate something more convenient and less healthy (and therefore my family did, too); 3) I threw away food because I have so much of it available that I just didn’t get to it before it spoiled. That last one is espcially absurd in a world where so many are hungry. Irritating and self-inflicted, all of it.

Another day, I read that in a study of meat for sale in the U.S., nearly half of the samples tested were positive for staph bacteria, and most of the bacateria was a form that’s resistant to antibiotics. They attibuted it to the antibiotics given to animals to increase growth and (ironically) prevent infection in production facilities. That got me to thinking about where my most recent meat purchases came from, and, again, the risk to my family.

Even my dog’s food has been causing me challenges. He recently joined our family from a foster home where he had been eating a decent but ridiculously expensive food. We began the process of switching him to a better rated and less expensive food, only to have him throw it all up – more than once. Clearly finding something that we feel good about feeding him and yet will fit within our budget is going be more difficult (and unpleasant – for all of us!) than we had anticipated. Thinking about affordable, nutritious food for people is a big enough issue in our world. I admit: I hadn’t really considered the multi-million dollar pet food industry!

I could continue, but I’ll spare you. The point is that all these little, individual incidents add up. Some weeks I take it in stride, but other times I just want to quit thinking about food and eat whatever is easy, inexpensive, and tastes good. I can certainly understand how people end up eating fast food several days a week.

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who sometimes feels overwhelmed by all the ways that food decisions impact us and our world. So, I take it upon myself to say: cut yourself some slack. No one can tackle it all, all of the time. So throw away the occassional bag of spinach, and eat a less-healthy, convenient meal once in a while.  Do what you need to rejuvinate, and come back fighting! I’ll try to do the same.

-Nancy Michaelis