It’s been awhile. I’ve had an awesome / wondrous experience on my pilgrimage. I’ve had wonderful reunions with good friends, particularly a great evening with guys I went to seminary with 45 years ago. I’m going to re-create this whole experience for you when I return to Florida. I’ve been out of Internet service much of this time in the mountains and visiting friends. I’ve taken some awesome pictures which I’ll share; some of them are here.
But last night a jarring note entered my peace which reminded me of the sin and selfishness and lack of awareness and connectedness of our country. It was a rare visit I make to a restaurant; most of the time I eat very simply. Here’s what happened as I wrote to the manager last evening:
October 27, 2009
Manager of Applebees
Small Town, West Virginia
This note is addressed to you and the management above you. Please pass it on to them.
I am a priest / writer making a prayer-pilgrimage for the sake of the transformation of our country. This letter will be published in my blog tomorrow.
Here in Lewisburg I am 4027 miles into my awesome / inspiring journey. The West Virginia mountains have been ablaze with glorious color that has delighted my soul. Sunday night the Milky Way on the mountaintop made my soul leap and dance with joy. (I live in Ft. Lauderdale with light pollution so that was a memorable occurence for me.)
Tonight, after driving all afternoon up and down, down and up mountains in the rain I came to Applebees to relax and have a good meal. I ordered the burger Quesadilla which was excellent, by the way. I like my food piping hot and asked the waitress to pop it in the microwave for a minute. It took ten minutes and I knew what happened! The kitchen threw it away and started over.
My heart sank as I firmly believe that wasting food is one of the greatest sins of America. We could feed millions with the food we waste. I spoke of my anger and sadness to the manager on duty (a very sweet young lady).
Mr. N. I have friends who have been homeless and who have had to dumpster-dive to survive. The amount of food we waste daily in our restaurants in the United States is scandalous. I perceive it to be a very grave sin, a sign of our selfishness and uncaring in our present American culture. I wish to help change some of these things.
I just googled the following at http://www.culinate.com/:
We live in a culture of excess, and food is no exception. The average American wastes more than half a pound of food per day. I’m no mathematical whiz, but that would be a whole Quarter Pounder at lunch and dinner. When you count what’s put down the disposal, 25 percent of what enters our homes is not eaten, Rathje reports
And as we can all attest, restaurants’ massive portions fill their large plates, our stomachs, and then their dumpsters. Exceptions to this squandering — like T.G.I. Friday’s “Right Portion, Right Price” menu — are few. Every day, Jones calculates, American restaurants throw away more than 6,000 tons of food.
Why do we waste so much food?
Mr. Hughes, I was nauseated when the second portion of food was served; I became angry and upset and lost my appetite. It spoiled my evening and thrust into my prayer/pilgrimage a very important awareness for me of the need for the transformation of our country.
I implore you, as the Applebees food system to change your policies and be respectful and reverential about food. Food is sacred. Many people would love to have what you threw in the garbage.
I left the restaurant angry enough to write this letter and insert it into by blog. What should have been a pleasant, relaxing moment for me was anything but.
I ask you, as the management team of Applebees to attend to this for America’s sake. “Waste not, want not,” I was taught. I still think this is a very wise policy.
You can take some leadership as a restaurant system to teach our people, especially our young people the value of food and sensitivity to those who have none. To not do so, I believe is absolutely scandalous.
We will be held accountable.
Rev. Bob Traupman
priest / writer
I’ll be traveling through the mountains from Virginia and Tennessee to northern Georgia the next few days and will be out of Internet service. Just know you are thought of, loved and prayed for all the way.
And please pray every day for the repentance / restoration / waking up / transformation of our beloved land. May we realize our connection with the poor and with our God as we understand God.