I have always heard that a meal is the thing to bring people together, that sitting down and breaking bread with one another promotes community. We see this especially at times such as Thanksgiving and in this week’s Passover and Easter feasts. But it appears that, in Washington, D.C these days, even eating is a divisive issue.
Maybe the “tea party” is against organic food, like it doesn’t believe in global warming.
That would appear to be the case as, according to the Los Angeles Times recently, a literal food fight has broken out in the cafeteria where the nation’s lawmakers eat. Since gaining more seats in November, the Republicans have done away with many of the changes that Nancy Pelosi instituted in the dining hall when she was Speaker of the House. There are still organic options available - with the emphasis now surely on “option” - but gone are the biodegradable and recyclable plates and utensils. There was supposedly too much griping that the cardboard dishes and corn-based spoons melted or fell apart.
So, it’s back to plastic and styrofoam. Yes, good old American plastic. “The future,” as Dustin Hoffman was famously once told.
Who knew that dining would be such a partisian matter? Not Dan Lundgren, a Republican representative who claims to be surprised by all the fuss and is quoted as saying, “I never thought I’d be known as ‘Styrofoam Dan.’”
There is talk of experimenting with washable mugs, perhaps leading to real plates and silverware, but one Republican warned, “You’re going to have lost silverware or you’re going to have drawers full of dirty silverware.” He went on to say, again not unlike a father who knows best, “Either way, that’s not going to save you money.”
And Heaven forbid we ask our esteemed congresspersons to have their own mugs and cloth napkins.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by this dining divisiveness. Not only is there chronic gridlock among our lawmakers these days, with them not agreeing on almost anything, but I was once in a market’s produce department and heard one woman say to another, “That’s organic. You don’t want that.”