Monday, February 11, 2008

Wasting food

While we were on vacation in Florida, we went to a restaurant called CiCi's, which is an all-you-can-eat buffet of pizza, salad, and a few desserts. It was very enjoyable, the food was pretty good, and the price was extremely reasonable.

I have to admit that although I usually finish the crust, or bone, (as my sister calls it) of pizza when I eat it at home, there were so many pizzas to choose from that I left my crusts so I'd have room for other things.

I couldn't believe though, the incredible waste that was left at a table nearby us. Two women ate with three preschool-aged children, and left this. I was so appalled that I actually took a photograph of it. (Click on it to see it larger.) This is enough food to easily feed three adults!

I remember the last time the United States hosted the Olympics, I saw a story on TV about how the world's athletes were appalled to see the way the Americans wasted food; they took way more than they could eat and threw tons of it out. The image I posted here makes me appreciate that in a whole new way.

This wasn't the only table left with an unacceptable amount of leftovers, but it was by far the worst. Our society really is so very wasteful.

When I was growing up, I was encourage to eat past the point of wanting to. I was told that there were starving people in Biafra and I should eat all my food. I believe this contributed to my now inability to stop eating when I am full, and of course, my being overweight. So I encourage my children to stop eating when they've had enough. When we go to a buffet, we always take less, knowing that if we want more we can get up and get some. I get frustrated with my kids on those very rare occasions when they take more than they can eat.

This really made me so sad. And I'm guessing the laws are like those here in CT; the restaurant is not allowed to put all that perfectly good food aside and give it to the homeless, they have to throw it out.

If I knew the names of the women who left this mess, or thought to get their car's license plate number, I'd post it here. This was disgraceful.


Jonathan said...

Thanks for sharing this story and photo. Sadly, the scene your neighbors left behind isn't all that rare.

I write a blog on Wasted Food in America. Would you mind if I put that photo in my Flickr gallery of wasted food? Or you can do it if you have a Flickr account.

You're right in guessing that the restaurant is unable to donate the food from diners plates. Some buffets have instituted a fine system to prevent wasteful scenes like this one.

Finally, I appreciate your perspective on the "clean your plate" ethic. It sounds like your experiences have led to an enlightened policy with your kids and buffets.

Love 2B Homeschoolers said...

Sure, go ahead and put it in your gallery. If you want to use it any place else though, please be sure to ask first.

It's so pathetic that this problem is prolific enough to warrant a whole blog about it. Yours is great though; keep up the good work, and good luck with your book!

Anonymous said...

Wait a second... you just said that YOU left the 'bones' as well.

So it's not really a matter of waste, but rather a matter of an amount that YOU are offended by.

What if I were offended by the little bit you wasted?

It's either WASTE or NOT.

But those are just my two cents. I actually am not trying to sound like an a#*, but just wondered if you'd looked at it that way. I mean, we all rationalize that OUR waste isn't too much (like I'm sure the ladies near you did), but isn't ALL waste too much?

Chung T. Nguyen said...

That's just terrible. This is one reason I avoid buffets. What a shame!

Love 2B Homeschoolers said...

I appreciate your thoughts, anonymous. And you are right in that we each tend to define what "waste" means to us as individuals.

I do not consider it to be wasteful to leave the bones behind when I eat a steak, even though I could, if I happened to need it at the time, use them to make broth (which I often do). And the idea of calling the crusts "bones" is that they simply hold the "meat" on and are not for eating; they are completely nutritionally devoid, and there is no healthful value in eating them.

I would not have been struck by a table full of "bones" as I was with this image of good, healthy food, which can sustain life. And although I may have raised my eyebrows at a table full of dessert, it still wouldn't have affected me the way this image did.

So while your point is well taken, in my view things are not as black and white as they are in yours.

And as for you being offended by the amount I wasted? Point me to *your* soapbox so I can read all about it ;-)

Anonymous said...

Yes, children need to be taught to take a little at a time. Adults need to model this. Just like the obesity problem we have. Immediate adults need to model appropriate eating habits. There is nothing worse than an over weight adult complaining about obesity problems in children. Too many adults think it's okay to eat at fast food restuaraunts, too. I beleive children shouldn't be taught to clean their plate, but to take small helpings at a time. Ohterwise they may eat well after they are full.

Love 2B Homeschoolers said...

"There is nothing worse than an over weight adult complaining about obesity problems in children. "

Well anonymous, I actually do this quite a bit. I complain mostly though that people are so uneducated about how to feed their children properly.

I, on the other hand, know exactly how to feed my children properly. But unfortunately, having been diagnosed with an eating disorder, I'm not exactly a shining model for my own children. Sometimes we end up modeling for our children what *not* to do, so we have to be vocal about it so they understand. And then hope it's sinking in.

Again, it's not always so black and white.

Anonymous 1 again said...

I actually wasn't offended by how much you left... I was just bringing up a point for debate. I suppose it's my nature. :)

Besides, I was much more horrified by what probably went into those pizzas (refined EVERYTHING, fake cheese, etc) and the iceberg lettuce. YIKES!!! Talk about nutritionally void! :)