Thursday, May 19, 2011

Throw it Away so it Doesn't Go to Waist

Just after Easter we kept hearing on the radio about a campaign to keep people from wasting food. They encouraged people not to buy more than they need, gave tips for things to make with various holiday leftovers and talked about how people who throw food away are worse human beings than those who don't.

You probably won't be surprised that I'm going to share my thoughts on the matter. First a disclaimer: I try not to waste food. I plan menus before I do my weekly shopping so I know pretty much exactly what I will need and pretty much always end up using it all. I don't pile my kids' plates high with food that they won't eat, but give them tiny little portions that they must finish as a minimum but they can go back for more if they want. If I make something that we'll have leftovers of, I make sure it will be enough leftovers to have for another entire dinner so it doesn't sit and go bad in the fridge. When it's a popular dinner, this occasionally means telling everyone, "no, you can't have any more, it's for dinner tomorrow."

I am so waste conscious, in fact, that I go to great lengths to ensure that we never have to throw out cookies because they've gone stale. I'm always careful to have all baked goods eaten by the next day. Yes, this sometimes means that I personally have to be eating cookies/cake/muffins all day long, but that is a price I'm willing to pay. When people write in a recipe that the cookies "stay good for 3 days in an airtight container" or something, I'm always thinking how much more careful I am not to waste than that person, who tempted fate and almost let the cookies go bad.

Still, I've never quite understood the "think of all the starving children" thing. Yes, there are children who are starving, and that's terrible, but to a kid it's probably like the equivalent of telling a grown woman to apply her make-up liberally because there are plenty of women in the world who don't have any make-up at all.

I agree we should be grateful for what we have and use it wisely, but how does my not leaving any crumbs help the person in Africa who wishes he had crumbs? (I so wish it could somehow)

I have seen people, stuffed to the point of splitting their pants, clean their plate because they didn't want to waste any food. Isn't it more of a waste to force yourself to gag food down when you neither need nor want it?

I've mentioned before what a fan Greg is of capitalism. About all the "don't waste" talk, Greg said, well, the truth is, one of the best things you can do to help those who don't have enough food (besides donating to food shelters etc.) is to buy more food than you need." He then proceeded to explain and, while I can't remember what he said, I do remember that it made perfect sense, so if you have a better brain than me, or were raised under communism and now have an affinity for capitalism, it may make sense to you, too. (I just asked him and he said that it's about the economy and how when people buy more stuff it's better for everyone. So yeah, that makes sense. And is pretty elementary, which tells you what kind of brain I have.)

Well, I'm not going to go out and buy twice as many groceries as I think I'll use, but the next time we eat out and I have more food than I can eat, but not enough to take the rest home, I'm going to leave it on the plate and let them throw it out. Because there's one other argument for throwing food out sometimes: I'd rather waste it than let it go to waist.


Heidi said...

Hee. Larry. Us. Seriously, Lisa, this is great! You should submit this somewhere, some kind of magazine or something. You don't have ads so I guess you aren't signed up with BlogHer but they do publish funny blog posts like this once a week in a special section. I do think you have to be a member, though. Well, there's print magazines. Reader's Digest comes to mind ... Also, for the umpteetnth time, I wish you lived closer because I think I love you.

Melanie Jacobson said...

What an excellent ending line. You're so funny. I love your sense of humor.

Radicalman said...

I love this skit on TV that shows an elderly Polish woman looking over her family's medicaments and says to her husband : "Hey honey, could you please have this last tablet, I don't want it to go waisted" And she goes on doing that with other medicines until finally her husband falls dead. :)
I think in Polish culture it's more like a sin to waste things. I read that in my grandparents generation's eyes: " We have experienced poverty, we need to respect food, because if we throw it away, one day we will not be so fortunate".

Bria said...

I love this! I was just talking to a friend about this same thing and we concluded that either way it is food that is wasted. Your play on words here made me so happy. I have let way too much food go to waist. Well, for me, it's usually more like going to butt and thighs. But it was definitely wasted!

Susan said...

I love it. Especially the paragraph about baked goods. You are truly a saint!

AndyPandyJackaDandy said...

Fun to read! I often have to remind myself about the waist/waste thing. But as for the starving children thing, it's not about what the kids in Africa (or, in my experience, India) get out of the comment--it's teaching your kids gratitude for what they have. Which I think is always a valuable lesson.

AndyPandyJackaDandy said...

...Although not so much about cleaning the plate as being willing to eat in the first place. Peace out.