This is the most delicious dish I have ever made. From the freshness of the lemon rosemary, to the earthiness of the lentils, to the tang of the horseradish maple vinaigrette, my tastebuds were in heaven. I enjoyed the whole process of bringing this meal to fruition — grocery shopping, chopping and roasting, and eventually eating — and I’m so lucky for it. Why? Because like most of you reading this post, I always know where my next meal is coming from. Did you know that 50 million people in the United States — including one in four children — don’t? It is devastating, but also fixable.
This was the inspiration to the documentary “A Place at the Table” and by proxy, the Food Bloggers Against Hunger Challenge. I signed up to help spread the word by creating a recipe that cost less than $4 a serving, the amount of money food stamp participants are allocated each day. While I understand that feeding a family on this budget day in, day out is much different than making one meal for that price, I was determined to make one using only healthy, fresh food. I know canned goods are often easier and less expensive — I use canned beans, tuna and corn all the time — but I wanted this post to showcase a fresh, vegetarian meal.
I came across this recipe on The First Mess a few weeks ago when a friend of mine tweeted about the blog. Twenty minutes later, I was more than a dozen pages deep. I was salivating, and at the same time I was calculating if I could whip this up for the challenge. I didn’t use celery root because they didn’t have it at my local produce stand, but I did use maple syrup even though I was tempted to swap it for my usual go-to, raw agave nectar. I’ve been reading a lot about the pros/cons of each lately, and am trying to incorporate both into my recipes now. [More on The Great Agave Debate another time.]
Back to the challenge now, and the very easy ways you can help:
1. See “A Place at the Table” — it’s in theaters and on iTunes and Amazon — then tell everyone you know to see it too. B and I watched it last night and while it simultaneously broke our hearts and enraged us, it’s an important film to watch. When most people think hunger — as B and I did — they picture frail, starving children. But it’s not like that at all. Many are overweight, if not obese with numerous health and cognitive issues, because they aren’t getting the proper nutrition. And it’s not for lack of food in this country, because there’s plenty of that. It’s lack of access and money, lack of education, lack of government subsidies… the list goes on. The kids in the film, including an adorable 5th grader named Rosie, can’t focus and do well in school because they’re always hungry. As Jeff Bridges (creator of The End Hunger Network) says in the documentary, “If we discovered that another country was doing this to our children, we would declare war.”
2. Which brings me to his network, and others which would love for us to get involved. I know we all have so many causes we want to support, and not enough time or money to give — but we need food to live, and some kids (and many adults too!) in this country have food insecurity, which means they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. The End Hunger Network and City Harvest (locally in NY) are two I am reading about this morning, figuring out what I can do to help.
3. Send a message to Congress that federal nutrition programs are crucial. All you have to do is click here, fill out your information, then copy/paste the pre-written email.
4. Share this post with your friends, family and social networks — then take a second to be grateful when you sit down for your next meal. Millions of other people aren’t as lucky as you and I are.