Every Grain of Rice
Link: Every Grain of Rice
The choices and actions we make have a lasting impact on our surroundings and everything around us. As we travel from place to place, we leave behind footprints wherever we go. These footprints alone may not account for much, but collectively they act as a powerful force in shaping the earth. We live in a world today that is fueled by the pursuit of success and comfort, and this quest that so many of us chase blindly blurs our vision of reality. Driven by the search to satisfy our selfish desires, we exploit and abuse the resources at our disposal in order to reap the benefits of prosperity. We turn a blind eye on the irreparable damage that we are inflicting on the environment, and try to justify it all in the name of self-advancement and fulfillment.
Hong Kong is a city that loves food, but sadly it is also one that is prone to food waste. Food used to be something hard to come by, but today it is abundant in supply and often taken for granted. Every day in Hong Kong, approximately 3,200 tons of perfectly good food are disposed of and sent to the landfill. “Food is a privilege, and not something that should be taken for granted.” From a very early age, I remember my grandfather drumming these insightful words into my head. At every family dinner, formal or informal, my grandfather does not permit anyone to leave the table until their plate has been cleared of every grain of rice. Even though this simple act may seem petty, it raises awareness among us and places emphasis on the significance of food. After all, my grandfather lived through the catastrophic Great Leap Forward that has forever since changed his perspective on the value of food. He was only nine years old when Chairman Mao sparked the initiation of the Great Leap Forward, a tragic period in which three of his younger brothers died from malnutrition and starvation. His parents could barely provide for themselves, let alone provide for the seven children in the family. He and his siblings were forced to labor in the fields of the countryside from dawn till dusk, fourteen hours a day regardless of the temperature or weather conditions, just to make enough to survive on. From his rough childhood, my grandfather experienced poverty, loss of family, and hunger at the most extreme level. He knows exactly how it feels to be starved and he doesn’t want anyone to ever have to endure the same painful experience.
“Come on, let’s go! We’re leaving,” cried my friends, waiting impatiently at the door. I stared down at my plate, as if noticing for the first time that it was there. The food on the plate was cold and untouched. The eggs and sausage were still in the same array on the plate as it was when it had been served. I realized that I had been so occupied with the game on my phone that I had completely lost track of time and forgotten about the lunch in front of me. Glancing around quickly, I spotted leftovers and remnants of food on the abandoned plates at my table, but none of the other plates revealed waste as great as mine. Regret clouded my mind. What was I thinking? I was brought up better. A gentle tap on my shoulder aroused me, causing me to turn abruptly. A waitress stood beside me, politely asking if I was done with my meal. From the corner of my eyes, I saw my friends outside the glass doors of the restaurant, urging me to leave. After a slight hesitation, I rose from my chair and embarrassingly handed my plate to the waiter, then strode out to join my friends. Even as I merged with the group, I couldn’t quite get a dark and guilty feeling out of my head. I will never do this again, I promised myself, never.
Whenever we act, we must be mindful of the consequences that lie behind our actions, and not just be concerned about what appears to be most convenient for us in the moment. Our footprints may seem small and insignificant, but they don’t fade away quickly. Changes start with individuals, one decision, one tiny step, and one footprint at a time. How we value and treat the earth’s resources determines the legacy that we leave in this world. Do we want to be remembered by our grandchildren as the people who stood by and watched as the world declined and crumbled away, or as the heroes who sought change and took action?
“Food Waste in HK.” Feeding Hong Kong. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2013. <http://feedinghk.org/food-waste-in-hk/>.
Every Grain of Rice (Reflection on Writing Process)
This was the first time I have participated in a writing competition. Although I didn’t really think I stood a chance of winning, I still tried my best and gave it my best effort. A few weeks passed and I even forgot about the competition altogether. It was not until I received an email confirming that I had won second place that I remembered about the competition. It was a very fun and rewarding experience, and it definitely encouraged me in my writing. I used a short story and personal anecdote in the essay that I submitted. I know that personal stories and writing with voice is one of my weaknesses in writing, but to win something with something that I am not so good at was very encouraging. I know that if I keep working on my writing, then I will be able to continue to improve.