A starving Sudanese child being stalked by a vulture

This picture was taken by South African photojournalist Kevin Carter in 1993. It won him the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in 1994. Two months after receiving the award, Carter killed himself. (All about it HERE).

From time to time, one needs a reality check – a reconnection with the things we wilfully block out of our consciousness.

Food is getting progressively scarce in the world.

Twenty-eight countries will suffer a food shortage in 2008. It is the poorest of the poor in these countries, with the smallest ecological footprint, who will bear the brunt of our collective irresponsibility to the planet and its resources.

The Ecological Footprint is explained HERE.

According to the 2006 Living Planet report, on a global average, every person has a footprint of 2.3 hectares. However the available productive area on the earth for each of us is only 1.9 hectares. By 2050 humanity will demand twice as much as our planet can supply. In the UK, the average footprint is 5.35 per capita, in the US it is 9.70, in China it is 1.5, and in Mozambique, just 0.47.

So the man or woman in Mozambique, who has an ecological footprint of 0.47 hectares will starve, while we use 9.7 hectares to sustain our hip lifestyles.

It’s not just the poor in the developing world who are affected. About 30% of Americans live at the basic subsistence level.

The hungry will bear the brunt of climate change, the World Food Programme warns. Hundreds of thousands of people in Somalia face starvation because of crop failure. The reason? Poor rainfall.

Our lifestyles and choices far far away, have contributed to this.
Human-induced climate change has influenced global rainfall patterns, making Northern America and Europe wetter, and parts of Asia and Africa drier.

It’s also time to face the harsh reality of a burgeoning population and a dwindling amount of fertile agricultural land. Net food production has decreased.

Global food abundance is a myth. We do no have the resources to feed six billion people. Excerpts from THIS ARTICLE @ The Telegraph, London.

Global corn stocks have fallen to the lowest level since modern records began
as ethanol plants gobble up output and demand balloons in China, early evidence
that the era of global food abundance may be nearing an end …

In New Zealand, the central bank cited a 60pc rise in milk prices as the
chief reason for the latest increase in interest rates to 8pc …

"Fundamentals have been tightening ever since 2001, but
now we’re hitting critically low levels of stocks. We’re seeing very big
structural shifts in the world and this is going to make farmland much more
expensive in the future," he said.

"Shortages are emerging in places like India, which has
become a net importer of wheat for the first time since 1975. We expect China to
become an importer of corn by late 2008."

A big part of this has to do with dwindling water resources. The most precious natural resource in the world today is water – central to the existence of all life forms. Millions of lives have been affected in the wars to control this disappearing asset.

In this context, it is just not acceptable to ignore the connections between our lives and how it affects those elsewhere. It is also not acceptable to waste food.

Growing our own vegetables helps us realise how much water goes into nurturing plant life in the quest to sustain ourselves.
A very small portion of most vegetable plants are consumed, with the majority of their edible parts being thrown away. We have been attempting to use every edible part of the plants we grow and the produce we buy. Watermelon rinds, radish leaves, cauliflower leaves have all found their way to our dinner table in surprisingly delicious forms.

The Earth invests a lot of itself in nurturing and producing these sources of food for us to enjoy. It would be a shame to waste them.

How we can make a difference

** By reducing our Ecological footprint (see the Ethical Man’s top ten tips for Ethical Living)

Some of the measures he suggests may sound too drastic, but if half the world can survive that way, why can’t we?

** By stopping to think when we want to throw away the broccoli stems and use only the florets, or the crusts from the bread slices, ‘cos someone at home won’t eat them. Think about the child in Somalia who would consider broccoli stems a luxury.

** By donating to the World Food Programme. They reach the hungriest, and serve them without strings attached.

** By voting out political representatives who ask ‘what global warming?’ (while catching a breath between bouts of gay-bashing). Deport them to Somalia. On second thoughts, no. The last thing the Somalis need is a bunch of fundie, homophobic, rabid wastes of oxygen who believe that “God says, “Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.” ‘

PEA (pod) and MINT SOUP

Green Arrow Pea from our garden

A pea plant is almost completely edible, from the vines, to the pods, to the pearls inside, but the section most of us consume comprises barely 5 percent of the plant.

We’ve tried to incorporate pea shoots/leaves in our diet, as also the pea pods, which are absolutely bursting with flavour if they are fresh and tender.

Of the three varieties of peas we grew, the bush peas had the most flavoursome and tender pods. We ate most of them before the peas matured, with a yogurt dip, or by themselves.

On maturing, the skins tend to become tougher, and very fibrous, yielding huge, very sweet peas. Paired with homegrown mint and yogurt, the pods and peas make a soothing chilled soup.

Any variety of pea pods will work for this soup. Just make sure to wash them with a drop of dishwashing liquid and water to remove some of the residues from fertilisers and pesticides if they are not organic.

Serves 2 to 3

4 packed cups pea pods (strung and chopped)
1/2 cup fresh peas
1/2 cup chopped shallots or spring onion whites
1/2 tsp grated ginger
2-3 green chillies
1/2 cup plain yogurt or soy yogurt
1/2 cup milk or soy milk
1/2 cup packed mint leaves
1 tsp oil
mint leaves to garnish

Fry the shallots, ginger and chillies in the oil.

When the shallots turn transluscent, add the pea pods and mint leaves.

Stir for a minute or two, then add 1 cup water and the fresh peas and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Cool it and blend it in to a fine puree with salt and the yogurt. Add milk to thin it out to the desired consistency.

Strain it through a mesh if you wish (we didn’t).

Chill and serve, garnished with mint leaves.

Sending this to dear Meeta for her Earth Food event @ What’s for Lunch, Honey?

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  1. Dhana says:

    That’s a truly shocking picture. Thanks Jai & Bee for the thought provoking, and for me hopefully action provoking article!

  2. sharmi says:

    I have seen this picture earlier. it came to me as a fwd. your write up too good.
    BTW the soup looks very comforting. very new kind of soup.

  3. Anita says:

    Even in a water-scarcity area like most of India there is too much water being wasted. People, including,the politicians don’t understand how precious water really is. How disasterous building in the flood plain of the Yamuna (to acomodate the Games Village)is going to be for Delhi…the major water recharge area for us. The reasons cited are ‘no time to re-think because the Games are nearer!’ How ridiculous is that? And we’ll pay for it – sooner than we realize. Already, Gurgaon, near Delhi, is expected to dry up in just ten years!!

  4. Coffee says:

    That pic is enough to raise the hair on my skin!!

    Very thought provoking article guys!! We indeed need to rethink our actions. Thinking of those days when I used to buy veggies and fruits in bulk and then throwing a few down the chute after a week when they have started to soil gives me shivers now! Glad that I started planning a bit now and just buy what I am going to cook over the week!

    Good job! and great soup! :)

  5. nupur says:

    a very thoughtprovoking write up.Most of us donot think twice about the consequences of our actions …I am glad that u brought it up on ur blog as it is visited by a lot of fellow bloggers and hopefully it would lead all of us to do some thinking and finally some modifications in the lifestyles.

    the soup looks wonderful too ….thanks for the great recipe :-)

  6. Raaga says:

    Lovely thought provoking post. I was taught from my childhood that I must never waste. It’s a lesson that has been valuable. I cook what I need to, use up the leftovers or give them to someone who can utilize them before they go bad.

    When I made my paneer in white gravy, I took it over to the neighbours for lunch. There was one serving left in my bowl and the lady of the house was about to throw it when I stopped her. I promptly took it back home and Sachin polished it off that evening. There are enough and more hungry people in the world and I can’t believe that in this day and age people waste food. Is it their way of telling the world that they’ve arrived?

  7. madhuli says:

    I feel guilty each time I throw away some leftover or spoilt food.Thanks for that thought provoking article.
    The Pea Pod soup looks really cool.

  8. archana says:

    The picture is very touching and shocking too. Your write up is excellent and we bloggers would definitely learn from it and avoid wastage.
    Soup is looking good. Never tried making cold soup :)

  9. viji says:

    I never waste my food Bee, after I saw this picture, i always give something to the needy people. The soup is so yummy and asusual the pictures are inviting. Viji

  10. Priya says:

    That was a very informative post J & B..every time I get dull about something my frnd always quips,’Think about the guy in Somalia and compare your worries with his’ Very true..The things we crib about are absolutely absurd compared to the harsh reality of life for people living in other countries. Every drop in the ocean counts and we just have to try and make a change no matter how small or big.

    On a totally different note, I just love the photos in the recipe ! Excellently captured…

  11. I can’t thank you guys enough!

  12. sra says:

    That picture is chilling, every time I see it. It’s a reality check.

  13. indosungod says:

    Thought provoking and very important one for us food bloggers. The lessons we learnt as children treat food with respect, don’t waste food – are relevant more than ever.

  14. Asha says:

    I am not a very emotional person usually but after looking at that child,I had to run to the bathroom nauseated and my stomach is hurting.I am not surprised he killed himself.He saw that in real life,pretty hard to handle!!

  15. priyanka says:

    A tragic haunting picture it is…. makes us dwell and think of how fortunate we are to have the basic necessities of life and appreciate it. Thanks for a great write-up.

  16. Poonam says:

    This is really touching! I had read about Kevin Carter on this issue earlier! It is sad!

  17. musical says:

    The picture is extremely painful, but a reality…..being accountable for how we consume the earth’s bounty, would be just a first tiny step to ensure that such photos are no longer a reality…..

  18. pelicano says:

    That was eye-opening I must say… I find it interesting that many of the “green-living suggestions”, that are more and more being taken seriously now, I recall reading about in the periodical Mother Earth News and the book Diet for a Small Planet 20+ years ago…and the film Koyanisqatsi was definitely right on! Great research Bee and Jai.

  19. Jyothsna says:

    Very thought provoking. Good research guys! I’ve have pea pod soup before, and I loved it until I knew it was made from the pods!!

  20. TBC says:

    Great post, Jai & Bee!
    Made me think about some of the things that I do/don’t do.That’s a haunting pic and a very painful reality.

  21. tee says:

    I have seen this picture before in one of the forwarded mails…its so shocking to see how we live so comfortably while there are so many who fight with hunger & death everyday. A very good and thought provoking article…
    Your soup is super comforting!

  22. Ashwini says:

    Bee & Jai, this post had a huge impact. I hadnt seen the photograph before and it just..I dont know ..kind of tore me up. Me comfortably eating my fibre rich oats for breakfast. I am glad you touched on ‘ethical living’ (its hard to do this without sounding preachy and know it all but you got the message across) AND ALSO donation (actually sending food to starving nations is a huge step in reducing world hunger)

  23. Manasi says:

    This picture can move a heart of stone…
    Sad how people waste resources without a thought… we must all make a conscious effort not to waste anythign as far as possible.

  24. Chikki says:

    Growing up in Chennai with its share of water problems, avoiding water-wastage is ingrained in me. It pains me to watch people around wasting water, electricity and any form of energy. Conservation, be it of energy, water, forest, food should be taught to every kid and we all have to do our bit to save our planet. Awesome article folks. It is so true that a picture is worth a million words!!!

  25. Kanchana says:

    I was really moved by the picture and story.

    Thanks for sharing.


  26. neroli says:

    Thank you, Bee and Jai.
    The aspects of waste that you address are so simple: and in that simplicity, we humans make it so simply hard.
    Yet the simple arithmetic is powerful.
    Pea pods do add up.
    Thank you for reminding us of that we don’t have to do something monumental. We just have to do something.

  27. That was a very moving picture…sorry, could’nt get to read the recipe…my eyes were too blurry with tears..will read it and try it later.

  28. Pintoo says:

    That is horrendous. I have seen this picture three times before in forwarded emails. This is the fourth time I saw it. Every time I see this picture not only do I cry but it pierces my heart, I cannot imagine witnessing such violence and human suffering without trying to intervene.
    We take so many things for granted and we have very little or no value for things in life.
    Even, I don’t like to waste things, I use everything with a conservative mind and I am trying to teach that to my kids too.

  29. Savithri says:

    Thanks for raising awareness about this issue. Sometimes we like to turn a blind eye to the horrible things going on in the world. I sent this post to my friends so they can also learn about it.

  30. Wendy says:

    Very disturbing picture and moving post – thank you so much. The soup sounds great – but I can’t even think about eating right now after reading what you wrote. Thanks for the reminder to be mindful.

  31. Archana says:

    its haunting. its sad. I read the article about Carter. Why do creative people with so much potential die so young? Thanks for bringing this to the attention. You guys do so much on your blog. Truly inspiring.

  32. Kay says:

    After seeing that picture, I became numb for quite sometime. Thanks for posting about that. It has had quite an impact on me.

  33. Meeta says:

    Every time I see that picture it leaves a huge lump in my throat. Helpless is what I feel. My own problems seem so miniature and irrelevant. Thanks Bee and Jai for this thought provoking post. I love you guys!

  34. Marta says:

    The picture is absolutely amazing, and terrible. Indeed, that’s the price of our life standards. I was eating ice cream and food blog-surfing when I saw that. It’s so sad, to think about the difference. I’ve been taught about all this since my childhood, and try to do my best to not waste anything (food in particular, and water.. you can see it in my own small contribution to Meeta’s great event) – but it seems to be never enough, if you think of what’s really going on in the world, and how little I’m doing, in the end.
    In any case, thanks for the great post – in the end, spreading consciousness is one of the most important things we can do.

  35. [...] Paneer, Risi e Bisi and Pea (pod) and Mint Soup with three varieties of [...]

  36. Jai says:

    Hi Jai & Bee,
    Thats an astounding article.Being in India , I would say that the message has still not sinked in.There are numerous articles about global warming, food crises etc, etc., but nobody seems to care about it.For the past of couple of Months Indian magazines and newspapers are flooded with articles about food crisis, but its sad to say that the Govt has not taken any step to control it in any way. The top IT companies, the supposedly backbone of Indian economy have not taken any measure (other than a sensible handful).There are still loads of use and throw papercups in their pantry(s), millions of print outs given every day. I actually think at this point Homo sapiens should stop reproducing.You have spoiled the world enough!!

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