Australians throw away up to 20% of the food they purchase. It means that 1 out of every 5 bags of groceries we buy ends up in the garbage bin.
Up to 40% of the average household garbage bin is food.
Aussies throw out $8 billion of edible food every year.
Australians waste 523kg of food per household!
If you add up the foods Australia wastes each year, it's enough to fill 450,000 garbage trucks. Placed end to end, the convoy would bridge the gap between Australia and New Zealand just over three times. These are the figures from the government. However there is another figure that the Government seems to overlook. According to what I checked a few hours ago there are 23,566,244 residents in Australia. If we didn’t chuck out 20 percent of good food, 4,713,249 people could come to our shores to live here and have food for free.
My Friends! Just think what can an average Aussie understand when he or she hears stories like the one from today’s Gospel about eating scraps that fall from the table? Probably the answer I would get would be: “Who eats this stuff?”
Let’s go back to the Gospel passage we had a couple of weeks ago about Jesus multiplying bread and food for the hungry. A few times, with various groups, I have done an activity about that passage. I asked people to highlight what stands out to them in that event. I will not talk about what they highlighted but I want to highlight what none of them highlighted. I mean that after feeding the crowds the disciples of Jesus collected the scraps remaining, twelve baskets full. Isn't interesting that the twelve baskets full of scraps collected after the meal didn’t get anybody’s attention? Once even it got worse. I tried to talk to the kids about that and a boy interrupted me saying: “Excuse me Father, when you say baskets you mean rubbish bins, don’t you?”
Let me ask you another question? What do we use napkins for? Well, when you eat you put on a napkin to protect your beautiful outfit from getting dirty, don’t you? However I remember the times when, even going to the fields to work, we would take our napkins with us. When we were eating we would spread the napkin on our lap so that the crumbs of bread, etc. could fall into the napkin. Once we finished our sandwich we would carefully pick up the scraps from the napkin and we would eat them.
I am not here because the Government has paid me for talking to you about the proper food management. I am not talking of the landfills being filled quickly either but I want you to make a connection between the gifts you place on your table and the Giver of those gifts, the Creator of heaven and earth. In the Gospel for this Mass Our Blessed Lord praised the great faith of the woman who approached. Such faith doesn’t come out of blue. It is a gift of God that has been nurtured by long time of faithfulness in small things. The gratitude we show God every day for his generous gifts to us contributes to such faith. Just think whether you say grace before every meal. By the way grace before the meal is not praying not to get sick but it is giving praise and thanks to God for his kindness expressed by the meal that is to be shared. It is one of the small gestures that contribute to faith growth.
In my life I have never met a person who was very respectful when it comes to food and not respectful to the Most Holy Eucharist. On the other hand I have seen many people who would chuck out an unfinished sandwich and they would treat the Body of Christ like a chip. Is it a coincidence?
My Brothers and Sisters! At Mass you can see that a priest places on the altar a corporal, which can be also explained as a napkin. Why do we do that? Because we believe that even a little crumb of Eucharistic Bread is precious and we don’t want to lose it. When you come to church for Mass pay attention to that moment so that you may grow in your appreciation of gifts God sends you every day like the Church appreciates the gift of the Eucharist.
I think that not only Catholics should go to Mass. Even unbelievers should come, at least occasionally, to learn how to handle and respect food.