Feed on

At exactly 3.27pm every week day I hear the same words whined at me from the back seat of our car. “I’m staaaarving Mum.”


No, you are not starving.

Your bellies are plump and round from last night’s supper of chocolate teddy bear bickies and ding milk, not distended from years of malnutrition- the kind you get from only eating porridge-mush made out of tree bark. You are not starving. You are hungry or famished or longing for sustenance.

But you are not starving.

There is a big difference I think as I throw them cheese sticks that have been conveniently plastic wrapped and somehow modified so they no longer need refrigeration. Genetically modified, I guess and then begin to worry about the choice I’ve made. But then I relax- this ‘no need for refrigeration’ cheese is nothing new. We had those blue boxed chunks of yellowness when I was a kid too. Well the blue boxes weren’t as fancy as the modern bits of cheese that string apart when you unwrap them- but then again I wasn’t allowed to play with my food when I was a kid anyway.

Or talk with my mouth full.

Or leave food on my plate.

 Ahhh… the food on the plate rule explains a big chunk of my psyche.

Shocking pictures of pitiful, desperate looking stick creatures from Ethiopia were the introduced rage for relief and aid programs when I was a child. But parents around the country manipulated those sad images for their own evil intents. The Ethiopian children with their stick like arms and blown out stomachs were meant to inspire a stream of donations and funds and sponsored communities- but instead they created new dinner time tag lines- “Eat your damn brussel sprouts. Finish your liver. Think about all those starving kids in Ethiopia.”

Now when my kids look even remotely full I whisk away their plates. My son (master 11) who was born with innate old-fashioned-Italian-values watches me with disbelief as I scrape everyone’s leftovers straight into the bin.

“But Mum that’s such a waste,” he bemoans and shakes his head melodramatically,“maybe the cat will eat it?”

I’ve tried being a whiz with leftovers but my plastic packages glad wrapped and promising just end up growing penicillin. I stand a metre away from the open fridge door and point in the general direction of the fuzzy shadowiness and my husband diligently (and rubber gloved) disposes of my sad attempts at not wasting. Some days he doesn’t even need me to point, he just follows his nose.

I’m sure my son wants to open up a restaurant one day like the one he heard about in Beijing. It gives the patron a discount if you finish your entire meal. As for me I’m trying my best not to be wasteful. I now only cook what I think we will eat. If I ever misjudge the rest is for the cat or the compost.

 And I also have a new 3.27pm plan.

 The next time my kids whinge that they are staaaaarving I have something other than cheese sticks to fling into the back seat for them.

 It’s a Thesaurus.

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