Food is important for the sustenance of human beings. Without food, we are nothing. It is for this reason that food is identified as one of the critical needs of life in addition to clothing and shelter.
Several quotes abound to give meaning to the importance of food. This includes: A hungry man is an angry man, a soldier does not march on an empty stomach, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, Belly full blow horn, and food maketh a man.
It is for these reasons that the culinary industry is one of the most vibrant. The small scale ‘waakye’, ‘koko’, ‘gari’ and beans, the chop bars, canteens and big-time restaurants are all serving a critical human need.
For this same reason, during social events such as naming ceremonies, weddings, engagements and funerals, organisers make sure there is enough food to serve their guests. This may range from savouries to “light food” to buffet.
The problem now is how we, as a people, behave when we see free food and at places where food is served for free.
First is the disorderly queues with people falling over themselves to be ahead.
Next is what the person does once at the table where variety of food is served. As if there is no tomorrow, and as if an announcement to the effect that the world is coming to an end has been made, the heaping of plates begin.
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One person can heap his/her plate with every type of food on offer to the extent that even ice cream, provided for dessert, is added to same plate on which rice, waakye, salad, ‘apapransa’ with crab, ‘acheke’ and ‘kelewele’ have been dished to the extent that the plate begs for mercy.
This greed happens in total disregard for those behind in the queue. And apart from these heaps, these same people would take extra as takeaways for those at home using all manner of excuses while people are in the queue. By the time it is the turn of others, the food would be finished creating an embarrassment for the organisers.
And even in this environment of chaos, the caterers who have been paid to provide the food would also be packing some of the food to take back home even when they did not bring all they were expected to.
Not forgetting those who come to the venue with black polythene bags and take vantage positions closest to where the food is served for a purpose.
If it is packed food, one person can use subterfuge to collect as many as four, leaving others with none. So we often have a case of 100 people sharing 100 packs of food yet 50 people get none.
Because of this behaviour, some decent people often stay glued to their seats and would not want to be part of the good food served and go home hungry.
All this creates an atmosphere of confusion which is not good for our image as a people. We should not forget the fact that often times, we have other nationals among us and displaying this survival of the fittest war-like attitude at the sight of food is unacceptable.
Due to this behaviour, many restaurants, which have tried the buffet service, have had to stop within a few weeks and maintain only the a la carte.
It is true that the economy is hard and so a free plate of food at any given time will be a welcome gesture. But it should not be lost on us that there is a very thin line between disgrace and free food.
To avoid the display of such behaviour, it is advisable not to attend such social gatherings on an empty tank. At least, drink some water and something light before you go because no matter your skills, you could be one of those who would end up leaving the gathering without anything to eat.
Some Muslims do very well by showing absolute control of themselves at the sight of so much food during their fast.
In all this, we must be guided by moderation and always remember Jesus’ exhortation that “Man must not live by bread alone”.