Last month, when I was on a vacation, walking in the corridor of the Hilton, I noticed something that triggered my stream of thoughts. I saw that outside a lot of rooms, there were trays of food half eaten; French fries, bagels, burgers, most of them hardly eaten. What I saw is a common thing that I see everywhere, throughout America. Wastage of food!
It pains me when I see food wasted in any plate anywhere. I feel that you should take only so much that you can eat. I feel that only so much should be ordered as much as is required. But, as food is not so expensive in the fast food joints, people tend to order more than is required and thus, we see a lot of uneaten food in the compost of the restaurant. The serving size is also way more than is required too, which obviously none of the restaurateurs take notice of.
People who can afford to stay in a hotel like Hilton, or are on a business trip, tend to get room service and don’t feel the need to store away the leftover food and hence, the scene that I saw outside the doors. Instead, couldn’t they just pack the leftover and give it a hungry person at some traffic signal? Or couldn’t they call the staff of the hotel and ask them if they could take the responsibility of donating the food? Most hotels do have a facility to do that, which most of us don’t even care to know. There are food banks which come and pick up food after meetings or events in hotels and restaurants too.
In India, it is so easy to not waste food. In all houses, we have maids or servants and they are ready to take the leftover food. And then, there are poor people who beg for food, and so any food leftover is given away to them. In most small towns and villages, there are street dogs and stray cats, so leaving leftover food for them outside, fills their stomach too.
I came across this article from India and was so happy about it!
It is not that America doesn’t have poor people or there are no people here begging for food; but here people are afraid of the laws and feel that they would be sued if they give leftover food to any poor person. Some people in America don’t know that according to Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996, donors of food are protected “from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the recipient.”
We Indians do not like to waste money and hence when we are eating out, we know how much we want to spend and hence do not ever order more than we can eat. And if at all, there is any leftover food, we don’t think twice to pack it and bring it home. I have noticed that some Americans (or maybe, they are immigrants too) do pack the leftover food. They either take it home for the next day’s lunch or give it to some homeless person the street or at the traffic signal. Well, I know this because some of my friends and colleagues talk about it. But, I’m sure the percentage of these people is way less than it should be.
This is something that we should start from home: We need to teach the next gen kids to not waste food. They, in turn, will teach their children tomorrow and thus, we would be setting an example to the future generations to come. My parents were always strict about this; we were never allowed to leave anything once it was served on the plate. Come what may, we had to finish it. In my husband’s family too, this rule applied and hence, when we had kids, my husband and I taught this to my kids.
My kids are not allowed to waste food neither in the house nor in restaurants. When we go to a restaurant to a buffet lunch too, they take only so much as they can eat. We rather make more trips to the buffet bar, than load our plates with food and not be able to eat. When we order Ala-carte, we know how much would be sufficient for the four of us and order accordingly. And any leftovers always come back home with us for the next day’s breakfast or lunch.
In my day to day cooking too, I don’t cook more than necessary. Well, exceptions are those days when I call some families for dinner and only a few turn-up, then food obviously is left over for the next day. Otherwise, I cook twice a day and each time, it is just enough for my family of four. And, if at all a small bowl of rice or pasta is left, I refrigerate it and eat it the very next day. I definitely don’t throw it down the drain because ‘there is hardly any left for all of us’.
In studies, it is known that America wastes half of its food on a daily basis and that amounts to around 160 billion dollars a year. Buying food or snacks from a wholesale retailer, is a very common thing in America. We get everything in bulk, and so, people who buy from these stores, buy huge quantities of food, fruits and snack because they are inexpensive. I too buy from the same retail store, but in my house, wastage is almost nil. I buy only what we can eat and I see to it that my kids finish them no matter what, especially snacks and protein bars. Storing extra, and it going waste or date expiring, and we throwing it out, is very very minimal, if not nil, in my house. It beats me why all families in America don’t follow the simple rule of ‘buy only how much you can eat’?!! Is it that hard to try and not waste food?!!