(Sorry I’ve been gone so long, and I know journal really isn’t what people were hoping for, but it’s what you’re getting anyway.)
I empathize strongly with the ‘love food hate waste’ movement. My boyfriend, for example, is a rampant enthusiast of it, regularly sneering at patrons who order a pizza only to nibble at the crust.
But there’s one aspect of a hatred for food waste I want to dwell on, because it’s haunted me through a lot of my life, and that’s this:
You don’t have to finish your plate of food.
Let me start by saying that I, personally, think forcing people to finish a dish of food when they’re not hungry leads to desperately unhealthy relationships with food. I recall as a child eating because I was bored rather than hungry, a habit I still have to curb myself out of occasionally (which my mother, thankfully, mostly controlled by making sure I snacked on things like cucumbers and apples). At the moment, due to my medications, I waver between either eating like a herd of hungry horses or like the tiniest of sparrows.
And I get it. I get the desire to look down at people who won’t eat what’s put in front of them. This year, for the first time, I had to deal with a flatmate who eats less than me, and it does, genuinely, feel like an insult, to watch him hand back half-eaten bowls of food.
But I also remember that he’s half my size, and I dish up the amount I’m prepared to eat, which is usually, by day’s end, a lot. Contrast when he cooks, and there’s usually not much on a plate, so I go scavenging for apples later.
The fact is, the moment I realized my relationship with food was different (and probably a lot healthier) than my friends was when I was a teenager, at a friend’s birthday. We were eating out, and I wasn’t hungry anymore, so I stopped eating. One of the girl’s looked down her nose at me and said:
“You know, Freya, there are starving children in Africa!”
And I, puzzled, just looked at her and asked:
“And how would me finishing this one quesadilla help them?”
She looked absolutely confounded, as if she’d never made that leap of logic herself.
The ‘starving children in Africa’ line is a guilt trip line, but I don’t think it had ever occurred to her that someone would think logically and moralistically about it as opposed to just straight selfishly.
Here’s the thing: when I eat, I eat until I’m hungry. If I know there’s a chance I’ll eat the food that’s left later, I’ll take in a takeaway box. If I know I won’t, I don’t. And that really is awful, but I also know from my boyfriend that hospo staff have a tendency to finish off half-eaten meals, so I don’t feel too guilty.
As my father (who also has a bird’s appetite) often says to worried looking waitstaff: nothing is wrong with the meal. We just disagree with the chef on how large portion size should be.