Strawberry-Avocado-Black-Bean Salad, and Hunger

On the way home from work today I listened to a story on NPR that brought tears to my eyes. It was about an exhibit by photographer Michael Nye called “About Hunger and Resilience.”

Nye spent five years traveling around the United States “documenting the faces and voices of hunger.” His subjects are almost surprisingly diverse — from a Khmer Rouge escapee to a survivor of incest who stopped eating to a homeless artist who couldn’t work after an accident.

“Once you start listening, you find that it’s really about ourselves,” Nye says. “That it’s not about those people, but it’s about humanity.”

To most of us, hunger is a tiny inconvenience that can be easily and unthinkingly satisfied with a quick trip to the kitchen, vending machine or, perhaps, a restaurant. But for too many people in the developing world and even in the world’s richest country where unemployment today stands at nearly 10 percent, hunger is an all-consuming, voracious reality that haunts and threatens their very survival. More heartbreaking, a large number of the world’s helplessly hungry are children.

“How do you explain to a 2-year-old or 4-year-old there’s nothing to eat?” says Kathy, a homeless mother, in her recording at the exhibition.

“All they know is that they’re hungry. And the pain in their stomach. And you try to sit there and say, ‘Honey, I’m sorry. I don’t have anything to cook you. I don’t have nothing to give you. I have nothing.'”

A government report last year said more than a million children regularly go to bed hungry in the United States. The World Health Organization estimates that half of all children’s deaths in the developing world are due to malnutrition.
Nearly a billion people in our world — about one in six people– do not have enough to eat.
It may seem odd to write about hunger on a food blog, but it is also rather appropriate.
Hunger has a lot to do with forces that seem beyond our everyday control, like political and distribution realities. But there are a number of things each one of us can do, both in the long run and immediately. Among the more obvious and near-term solutions, of course, are donating food to food pantries which have been hit hard by the recession, or even just finding and feeding someone you know is hungry. BangaloreBaker Champa, who loves to bake, tells me she takes some of the excess goodies she makes to a thrift store. What a simple and creative way to share the joy!
Here’s a great article that talks about 10 things we can all do to fight hunger in the world. Among my favorites: conserve energy, support sustainable agriculture at the community level and, of course, eat less meat.
It takes 16 pounds of grain to create one pound of meat– in other words, an animal has to eat 16 pounds of grain for each pound of meat you can harvest from it when it is killed. If everyone in the world were to give up eating animal food, there would be no need to breed and raise animals and feed them massive quantities of grain. Less land would need to be farmed and we would still have enough to feed all of the world’s hungry people.

Sounds like a win-win to me.
And now, a very colorful salad that that’s healthy, delicious, full of flavor, and delightfully simple.
I am not going to elaborate on the recipe– it’s easy enough, and you can vary it as you wish. I like the combination of sour-sweet, pungent, buttery and meaty– the strawberries, scallions, avocado and black beans. But feel free to use other fruit, or veggies. You can’t go wrong with this one.
One quick note– or rather what I learned from my errors. I overcooked the black beans a bit so they were mushier than I’d have wanted them to be, but they were still delicious. Try to make sure your beans are cooked but slightly firm for a better presentation.
Enjoy, all!
Strawberry-Avocado-Black-Bean Salad
1 cup strawberries, quartered
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
1 cup black beans, cooked until tender, or 2 cups canned black beans, rinsed
4-5 spring onions or scallions, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
For the dressing:
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
A pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tbsp agave nectar
Salt to taste
Mix the ingredients for the dressing together.
Place all the prepared vegetables and beans in a bowl. Drizzle the dressing over, and mix.
Serve at room temperature.
This salad goes off to Usha’s Healthy Inspirations event featuring salads. Thanks, Usha!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    Very nice post Vaishali. I remembered the beggars in India back when I was a kid asking for food every night and roaming from street to street. Some women would bring their kids with them. It is a very disturbing memory.

  2. says

    So very true Vaishali Hunger is everywhere and the quantum of hunger suffering can never be explained.My mom like few years ago when she visited first time asked people without shelter prevails here? or hunger visualized?.I took her to NYC ,except those fashion avenues you can see people living on streets literally .
    Very nice idea of Banglore Baker that she takes the excess goodies to a thrift store.I usually do that with my husband’s and my gently used clothes once in every 2 months take them to a thrift store.This is a very nice idea.
    A small suggestion,along with this post if you would have put a link to any of those food charities that would have been great.With the impact of reading this post I would have clicked the charity link.Nice Healthy Salad.

  3. Anonymous says

    I appreciate and agree with your concerns on hunger. If all of us could realize that and do small-small things in our daily lives (like reducing food wastage, minimizing non-vegetarianism, saving trees, etc), the world would have no hunger anymore. Mother Nature has enough to give to us all. Unfortunately, our greedy exploitations of her, makes her helpless. The movie, Avatar, showed this well. Moon Pandora from Avatar is happening right here, on our Planet, everyday. World hunger is a direct consequence of our over-indulgence and greed. The world is slowly waking up to that by experiencing the early effects of climate change. – Rajendra

  4. says

    Very thoughtful post Vaishali…makes me feel how blessed we are…btw the salad looks very delicious, love the addition of sweet strawberries and agave nectar..Have a wonderful weekend :)

  5. says

    Hi Champa, yes, I remember them too: it’s not something one can easily forget.

    Chitchat, Thanks

    Priya, Thanks.

    Supriya, you can use any other sweetener– even sugar would work, so long as you mix it in well to assimilate it.

    AMA, thanks for your suggestion. I didn’t think about adding a charity link, but it’s a great idea. I’ll think about it and update the post.
    Champa also suggests taking food to fire stations and local shelters for the homeless– thanks, Champa!

    Rajendra, very well said. Overindulgence and the greed of a handful can and is causing so many others to go without anything at all. Greed, in every form, abounds in our world.

    Gita, thanks!

  6. says

    this post touched a raw nerve Vaishali… whenever I go to restaurants in India and I find young boys cleaning the table and taking out trash, I feel so guilty that I want to stop eating.. there was even this period when I avoided going to restaurants to eat… but again, that does not really help anybody… Then I started donating food.. that helps a little bit :)

    strawberry and black beans – that’s a creative combination… I must try this one

  7. says

    Love reading your thought provoking posts. That has to be one mighty good salad. I esp. like the addition of strawberries! I am the kind who likes the combination of sweet, spicy and tangy in the salad just like this one.

  8. says


    This is very touching story, often time people do not think that there are hungry people in US, but there so many, lot are small kids. In california, many people have become homeless after house being foreclosed. I feel like whatever we do will not be enough.

  9. says

    Very thought provoking and relevant post Vaishali ! I like Champa’s idea of taking excess baked goodies to local thrift stores too! I usually donate to local food drives and goodwill whenever possible !

    Loved the salad, very unique combination of strawberries, black beans and avocado ! Thank you so much for sharing it with the Healthy Inspirations event, look forward to receiving the details through email :-)

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