by Mark Polet
“And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” John 6:12-14
I want to focus on the text above of ‘so that nothing may be lost, (wasted)’. Jesus is following a tradition in central and west Asia of not wasting any food. To throw away food here in central Asia, even today, is a singularly bad thing.
Terri and I just returned from working for a like-minded cleaning company that employs almost 150 people; the cleaning staff is mostly women. Lately in this capital city, shopping centres have opened up, bringing a western norm into contact with an Eurasian sensibility. These centres include food courts of which some of you are familiar. The company we serve has the contract to clean the shopping centre, which includes cleaning up the food court and the wasted food left on the plates.
Some of the cleaning women just cannot throw away this food; they break down in tears when they see it wasted. They are following Jesus’ command to the letter. Even when our colleague Enova tells them it is not their fault, that it is the customer that has to answer to God, the cleaning women just cannot dispose of the food. In some cases, they have had to be moved to other duties.
This waste, so new to this culture, is even more offensive when you consider the challenge it is to make a living here, now exacerbated by: poor wheat harvests in Eurasia last year; the inability to plant wheat in the midst of a war in Eurasia’s bread basket, the Ukraine; the lower value of the ruble, which has dragged down the local currency as well; and the loss of remittances sent home by the local men working in Russia and the Ukraine.
Perhaps we can learn from our central Asian colleagues in applying the principle of “Waste Not” to our BAM enterprises as part of our environmental commitment. The first step is to quantify you inputs and your outputs (including those outputs currently classified as waste). Read more