Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pratik's Food Wastage Principle

This happens to me ever so often while eating...

Person : I'm stuffed already, but I still have so much food left on my plate!
(Person labours on with the food)
I must not waste food! I WILL finish it! *groan*
Pratik : If you're full, leave it. There's no need to stuff yourself.
Person : HAW! How can I waste food like that!? There are so many poor people starving everyday. I'd feel so bad wasting all this food.

And then "Person" continues to finish the food, overeating uncomfortably in the process.
This is one of the most common "Stupid things that otherwise intelligent people do". [1]

It also gets annoying when I happen to be the person with extra food on the plate, and others give me gyaan about world hunger.

Why is it stupid?

1. Once the food is on your plate, (typically) no one else is going to get to/want to eat it.

What happens to the food on your plate has no relation whatsoever to any poor/hungry person anywhere in the world. [2]
- It's not like a hungry person is going to get fed if you finish the food on your plate.
- It's not like the amount of food available to the poor is going to somehow diminish because you "wasted" that extra bit of food on your plate.

2. The extra food is a bigger waste inside your body than in the bin.

Overeating for pleasure is not the smartest thing, but at least you get pleasure from it. Overeating from guilt that someone else somewhere is starving is just plain stupid!
- It's not like anyone is going to eat that food.
- It's not like you enjoy it.
- You're going to be uncomfortable for the next hour or so, and you're going to have the energy of a sleep deprived sloth.
- You're going to strain your digestive system.
- And for the majority of people (the non skinny type) you're going to eat unnecessary calories that you'll either have to work to burn off, or accumulate as fat.

Which brings us to...

Pratik's Food Wastage Principle
"If you have taken too much food, and are full... do NOT overeat just to avoid 'wasting'."
If possible/convenient, give the food to someone else to eat.
If possible/convenient, save the food to be eaten later by you.
Otherwise, just leave the food and remember to take less next time!
Calibrate, and take small portions to begin with.

Aside : Where does this come from?

So I have a theory that this tendency to "eat to not waste" gets programmed into kids when loving moms and grand moms feed the idea to the distracted child to get him to finish eating, even after his mind has wandered from food.
They (very rightly) want to teach the child to value food and not to waste it in general... which is a good rule of thumb. But, like most rules of thumb, people tend to use it without thought, and sometimes in the wrong context. [3]

I am NOT supporting/advocating food wastage.[4]

Nothing should be wasted. Not food, not water, not electricity, not time. I'm still working on the time bit though... : )

[1] I could start a new series on my blog called "stupid things that otherwise intelligent people do". : ) (God knows there are quite a few that I do myself!)

[2] I'm assuming that you're not going to be able to make that left over food in your plate available to a poor hungry person. I don't see any efficient way to do this, whether the poor fellow is across the world or across the street.

[3] But then again, the point of a rule of thumb is to serve as a shortcut to making quick, intelligent decisions without having to start over from first principles. Hmm...

[4] I mention it explicitly for the benefit of those who may not get it otherwise.


Unknown said...

You are right Pratik. I have explicated this idea before. All i got was food on my face.

Anonymous said...

=) It's ammusing how much thought you've given it. I may have slammed it if you were endorsing - 'waste the food-its no biggie'... But your principle thingamajig makes sense! =)

Anonymous said...

Well your view is interesting. But, when someone teaches you or tells you that,'there are people who are dying of hunger and all that,it is true. I agree no nymphs or angels are going to come and take the food your not going to eat/waste and give it to those who don't have the privelege, but it's the VALUE of it that is in focus. When parents are teaching children not to "waste" cause so many don't get food it's to teach them the value of it. Don't you think? I admit to going on a guilt trip when I waste food or water for that matter. We don't understand the value of something that we are not deprived of. But yes all in all it's amusing how much thought you've put into it!

Pratik Stephen said...

@Kartikey : I feel for you. : )
But that gives me a brilliant idea! The next time someone gives me gyaan about world hunger for leaving bread edges/oily curry etc I'm not going to "waste" the food by leaving it on the plate... ; )

@Anonymous 1 & 2 : Thanks for not slamming my principle thingamajig : )
It's actually common sense, but some people have this strong irrational emotional reaction to wasting that extra half chapati. Hence the thorough clarification of my stance. : )

The guilt trip is a good thing. You have to think about it, and calibrate to make sure you don't repeat the error.
However forcing the food down your throat to assuage the guilt is just plain silly.

Anonymous said...

I do not advocate over eating either. And I don't over eat! The guilt just stays and finds its way out after a while! Your reply didn't have anything to say about the 'value' bit though?

Pratik Stephen said...

That's cos you're absolutely right about the value bit anonymous 2. There's not much to add. : )

Out of curiosity, how does your guilt find its way out usually? : )

Also, I don't mind anonymous comments, but wouldn't it be easier to reply to each different anonymous person if you used a name. Any name - Pseudo or not. Like "Anonymous Girl" or "Random Guy".

That would enable me to address you more elegantly than "anon1, anon2 etc..." and give me a better idea of whether its a guy or a girl.
Let me venture a guess though - both anon1 and anon2 sound like ladies to me...

Anonymous said...

Well Anonymous2 sure is! And the brunt of the guilt I feel is not borne by my intestines and neither does it find its way out from where the "waste" comes out! Lol! On a more serious note, I just get over it after a while! Adn I leave you the liberty to choose a name for me! :)Don't misuse it! Hahaha!

Anonymous said...

Don't misuse the liberty to be more specific!

Pratik Stephen said...

Hey Anonymous2!

I totally forgot to name you earlier!
I was looking back at the comments on this post, and I read your first comment to refresh my memory in the quest to find the ideal name for you.

Fortunately or unfortunately, only 2 words stuck... "nymph" and "angel"!
; )

Take your pick. Don't misuse the freedom though! : )