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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wasting Food

Last night, Harmony and I went to a free dinner put on by a financial firm. First off, no, we did not buy anything, nor request any further information from the nice people who paid for our dinner and otherwise gave us some good information. Being the group that it was, and being that I was very hungry at the time (they didn't bring out the main course until about 8PM!!), I noticed how much food was being wasted.

Since we don't go out to eat much, I had forgotten exactly how much food is wasted at restaurants. The times that we have gone out to eat, we usually either 1) get an appetizer and share an entree, or 2) always bring the rest of the food home. I'm always dismayed when edible food gets thrown away, even if it's food that I don't like. So you can imagine that last night I was very dismayed.

I think each of the 6 of us at the table had a yeast roll, and I think we all finished our salads, for the most part. Then the main courses came. By the end of the meal, I figured that everyone was going to request boxes and take all the rest of their food home. Harmony and I put our leftovers into one styrofoam container. However, only one other person at the table requested a box, and then only put half of her leftovers in there (to give to their dog). All the rest of the people threw away anywhere from about 1/4 to 1/2 of their food. One lady seemed to throw away half of her ribeye steak! Numerous people threw away their portion of the restaurants amazingly good garlic sauteed green beans (and green beans are far from my favorite vegetable, FYI). I really wish it weren't impolite to ask people for their leftovers, because we would've gone home with probably 3x as much food as we did.

<aside>
Can anyone actually explain to me why it is impolite to take someone else's leftovers that they would otherwise just hand to the waiting staff? It is a great mystery to me. Does it make them uncomfortable if I denigrate myself by asking for their food? I don't consider it denigrating at all, I consider it getting the most out of everyone's money. If anyone's got a copy of Emily Post's tome available, please enlighten me.
</aside>

I also thought about any other uneaten basketfuls of yeast rolls which would be thrown away. If the wait staff of any restaurant brings out bread and comes back later to find them untouched, they get thrown away! (that's what the wife told me) There are probably lots of hungry people out there who would love to have a stale yeast roll...people like that probably wouldn't even care that it's not a whole wheat product.

It was just mind-boggling to me how wasteful some people are. Isn't throwing food away like that akin to lighting dollar bills on fire? Perhaps because the dinner was free, people felt fine throwing their food away? I don't know. I suppose that two income couples with few or no children can afford to light dollar bills on fire. What they do with their money is their business, but I sure wish that they would offer me their uneaten leftovers. Don't worry about me folks; I'm not squeamish, and I don't really care if micrograms of your saliva might be on your uneaten steak and green beans. Maybe they are trying to save me from catching communicable diseases?

Why do restaurants give such large portions, if they don't all get eaten? Slightly reducing portion size could result in less garbage generated per day. I suppose maybe they have to cater to the small minority of people that come to the restaurant and might complain if their entrees aren't big enough.

So keep this in mind, any of you who I might share a meal with one day. If you have leftovers on your plate that you are not going to take home, offer them to me! I find no shame in accepting other people's leftovers, especially if it's food that I would eat. You can give your leftover mushrooms and brussel sprouts to my wife though. I suppose the best way to keep my heart from being rended at all the wasted food is to avoid eating out. Cool, that saves us money. Problem solved.

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  • Ginny

    This is funny, but sadly true. Yesterday, I took three young friends with me to go shopping and then pick up my chicks at the hatchery. We stopped to eat and I got a boxed chef's salad and a rootbeer. I couldn't possibly eat the whole thing. They got a sandwich each. They finished their sandwiches, and I was struggling with this mammoth salad. Finally, I said that I couldn't possibly finish it and did anyone want some salad. Two of them took my offer and they finished it between them, and my rootbeer. :-D Then we got some icecream and they got two large and shared them around. I thought that was nifty. There was no wasted food at our table! :-D