Sunday, November 6, 2016
Clean Plate Syndrome
They're starving . . . somewhere. Many of us, of a certain age, heard our mothers remind us at the dinner table that 'we should eat up, they're starving in China. That was in the old days when it was Red China, a scary Communist country where everyone dressed in identical Mao suits. Today, China is a travel destination. I believe there are still parts of China, tucked away from the tourists, where people still struggle to feed themselves. Or another country could easily be substituted, but somehow it is not.
Cleaning your plate has gone out of fashion. Mothers were accused of contributing to obesity or
eating disorders by their nagging. People should stop eating when they are full became the accepted approach. The challenge then became to cook the exact amount that the family would consume while at the same time encouraging family members to only load their plate with what their appetite would value. Complicated if not impossible.
Recent reports have found a new target to blame (yes, let's lay off mothers for awhile). Supermarkets apparently discard perfectly good food for reasons only they know. A reporter took the job of rummaging through the waste bins behind the stores, under the tutelage of an experienced dumpster diver, and discovered vast amounts of food that was discarded well in advance of their Best Before date. Or perhaps a bag of potatoes or apples with one daring to be blemished causing all to be dumped. Why was this perfectly good food discarded when some people do not have enough to eat was the the question.
The contents of the bins were mostly what we would call perishable goods that made their way to the trash. There were no cans, for example. Perhaps stores fear litigation if someone becomes ill.
Some stores in the U.K. tried a novel approach to dealing with wonky produce. (Must be a British expression). It seems that sadly up to 40% of farmers' produce ends up discarded for aesthetics only. They lack the proper shape and form. Maybe the vegetables were threatening to sue for discrimination based on appearance.