Entering the second week of December, Lebanon is truly living the Christmas spirit. Streets are lined with lights and trees, and carols can be heard everywhere. It is almost as if the tensions caused by current political events are mellowing down, thanks to the festive mood.
Christmas is about giving, not receiving, and that’s something that is engraved in our culture, as it is for most middle-easterns. In fact, we are known for our somewhat “excessive” hospitality, for having numerous dinner parties that brings the family together and even the neighbors together, cooking an unreasonable amount of food, and ending up with leftovers for days. We live the holidays “à la Libanaise”, meaning food is most likely the star of the month. Even “Souk el Akel” – the Lebanese Street Food Market – had organized a “Christmas Edition” of their usual market last week and people from all regions of Lebanon flocked to Mar Mikhael’s train station to be a part of it. All of this enthusiasm, while it warmed my heart at first, came as a sort of wake up call: Where is the typical Lebanese hospitality in the midst of the refugee crisis? Is this how we’re tackling hunger and death? Where does all the food that couldn’t be sold at the “Souk el Akel” go?
No excuse can justify food waste.
While it is an important problem that is spreading throughout the country, and more importantly, the world, many of us remain in our little bubble, ignoring the struggle of others. But fortunately, some are fuelled with the willingness to make a change. Maya Terro, co-founder of FoodBlessed, a local hunger-relief initiative, is one of those people. In 2012, FoodBlessed was born, and since then has managed to donate around 188 thousand meals.
With the existence of such initiatives, there really is no excuse anymore as to why so much food is being wasted. However, you don’t necessarily need to volunteer in order to make a change. It all starts on the smallest scale: Stop buying excessive amounts of food at the supermarket and letting them spoil and end up in the trash. Or at least, start by having the leftovers at the restaurant packed, and giving them to the first wandering child you find in the street. Instead of rolling your car window up when they come asking for money, give them food. Start making a difference today.
Roya Pary Bouery
First year law student