Living Below the Line


My Women of Vision group did a fast together recently. We all prayed for the same thing, but we each chose what we would fast for ten days. Some did wine, some did coffee, all great and hard choices. I wanted to make mine about solidarity with the people our group supports, so for ten days I committed to eat like a rural Cambodian. I don’t know exactly what rural Cambodians eat every day, but I know many people in the provinces are subsistence farmers, living on what they can grow, along with rice and the occasional serving of meat. They don’t have a giant superstore right around the corner like I do. They eat what they can afford, not whatever they feel like. The poorest of the poor in Cambodia live on about $1.50 per day. They eat rice and little else. With this in mind I created my ten day meal plan with only the following foods: rice, mango, bananas, avocado and steamed veggies. To drink I could only have water.

To be honest, I really like all these foods so eating them wasn’t hard. The hard part was cutting out all the other things I love to eat: coffee, chocolate, green tea, almond milk, hummus, crackers, and the list goes on. When I started to get bored with my menu selection, I was reminded of the luxury of choice. Normally I can satisfy any craving I have in minutes. Whether it’s Starbucks or Indian food, nearly every kind of food is available to me quickly and cheaply. Millions, maybe billions of people eat the same thing every day with very little deviation from the norm. Whether it’s dal and lentils in Nepal or rice in Cambodia, many people are happy to just to have anything to eat at all.

I could learn a lot from that. Eating simple food close to the source is good for me and good for the environment. I’m not saying I’m going to eat like a rural Cambodian for the rest of my life, but I am going to be more mindful of the choices I have in my food selection that many others do not. It’s another level of gratefulness to add to my life.

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