Friday, October 29, 2010

Bad Influence

Villagers from Loy Karezak unload Sara Lee blueberry muffins from the back of a container truck. On the morning of Aug. 9, 2003, soldiers from Kandahar Army Air Field, Kandahar, Afghanistan, conduct a team village mission where members from Civil Affairs

This seems like a good picture. Afghanis receiving U.S. aid. Look closer at what it is. Sara Lee blueberry muffins. I was shocked. Is that what the malnourished and deprived of Afghanistan really needed?
In fact I was disgusted. Do you want to know what is in those muffins:

A whole lot of things, but not much at all. Note this data is for the small size muffins. The large ones is the same thing only doubled. Double the sugar, fat and fiber. I mention fiber in jest. There isn't much to speak of.
The typical adult should consume 48 grams of fiber a day. That means every prepared product you see that says "a good source of fiber!" but offers only 2 paltry grams is lying. Do you want to know how much fiber a typical Afghani breakfast contains? At least 10 grams.
Most Afghanis eat whole wheat (no white filler) naan, a boiled egg and some tea or milk for breakfast. That's it. No added potassium sorbate and artificial flavors.
I'm all about foreign aid and taking care of those if need. We are commanded to do so, and I want to. However, I'm not about doing people in need a disservice by replacing their typical diet with empty calories that leaving the people hungry again for something more substantial.
When I see this, well intended, but less than desirable aid, I am thankful for LDS Humanitarian Services. I am thankful for the inspired people that know better how to help in times of hunger and crisis. What to know the difference? Last month when torrential rains flooded Pakistan and left people, homeless and hungry, do you know what the church sent? It wasn't cellophane wrapped muffins or cans of cream of mushroom soup or lime jello. It was rice, beans, powdered milk and amit (Atmit is made from rolled oats, powdered milk, powdered sugar, vitamins, and minerals. It is easily digestible, high in protein and calorie content. Since severely malnourished people cannot eat solid food, atmit is an ideal way to get them essential nutrients).
Looking at the difference between the two, I am awed at the difference. The Sara Lee special was like mailing them all of our bad habits; the LDS Humanitarian aid, was sending them our love and healthy staple ingredients they already knew how to use.
So, I've been thinking about what we share with others. Do we offer good things or bad? Do we encourage others to eat well? When we cook for others, take food to potlucks, to the office or snacks for our kids' preschool classes what do we offer? And the answer doesn't have to a perfect food that is unapproachable to most people. No, that doesn't work either, but we can do better. Even if it is making our own muffins, with real blueberries, because if you noticed there weren't any in the ones pictured above.

What do you think? What do you do? Or am I off-base calling out the muffin shipment?


  1. It's a counter-terrorism measure. Make those Afghans fat and they won't be able to fit on planes, much less hijack them.

    (no, seriously... not!)

    >waves wildly< Hiiiiiiiii!


  2. Sara Lee was probably really happy about the PR. Whether positive or negative. I guess it's the easiest thing to do, approach companies who want some positive exposure....and they donate for free. I guess they would have to approach companies like Goya and MAthana -- or however you spell it...

    Do you know who was in charge of packing that container??? I think some other organizations are good about what they send.... it would be interesting to research...


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