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"DON'T WASTE FOOD!" Moral imperative or fetish?

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Sure, children are/were starving in Europe/Africa, but we can't send them our leftovers. Guilting people into consuming more than they want/need is unhealthy at a lot of levels. Repurposing leftovers into less tasty reheated dishes is not very Chowish/Maximum Deliciousness. Even at restaurants where food costs are vital, it makes no economic sense to spend $2 in labor to reduce food cost by $1. So can I say it proudly? "I am an American---I waste!'

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  1. Well, you can but back when I did live in Colorado, we were told to finish our lunches because starving children in Poland didn't have anything to eat.

    Food waste seems more like a a thing with the instant gratification crowd.

    1. Oh, but leftovers do maximize deliciousness often...in fact, the only way I really enjoy (and not just tolerate) Thanksgiving turkey is as leftovers, served with good mayor and celery in little avocado cups...moist and yummy.

      To your OP...in my house growing up, it was less about "the poor children in XYZ" and more about showing courtesy and gratitude to what went into the meal. Dad worked hard to put food on the table and mom worked hard to prepare it. You ate what was on your plate and didn't whine. Likewise at Christmas...out of respect, you ate the small portion of linguine and eels that Aunt Palma prepared with the peppers she jarred, and you didn't yuck or run around screaming gross. 99% of the time, the food was delicious, and the company was even better.

      Different times, different palates. I ate everything and was happy to eat/drink what I was offered (with the exception of the rarely offered soda if it was Moxie). It wasn't out of guilt or gluttony--children were served childsize portions. It was out of respect and a healthy appreciation for food...the growing, preserving, buying, and preparation of it.

      3 Replies
      1. re: pinehurst

        I did another thread called "I. Hate. Leftovers!" Not a single Hound agreed with me. So for you, leftover turkey is not waste. And meatloaf tastes better cold than hot. Understood. I'm saying that 'not wasting food' is an inconvenience for me without benefiting anyone else.

        1. re: mwhitmore

          I must not have seen your thread. I hate leftovers.

          1. re: Janet from Richmond

            Here it is...

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/890238

      2. "Repurposing leftovers into less tasty reheated dishes is not very Chowish/Maximum Deliciousness."

        I absolutely disagree with that. Why does it have to be "less tasty"? I think repurposing dishes in creative ways is one of the essentials of Chowish behavior.

        Last night I went to an Indian restaurant and brought home the leftover sauce from lamb rogan josh. Today I fried up an egg with the leftover sauce, and it was Maximum Deliciousness.

        "Guilting people into consuming more than they want/need is unhealthy at a lot of levels."

        I don't know what this has to do with food waste. You should eat until you're satisfied and you can finish the leftovers another time. If you don't want leftovers you can always overeat and skip a meal.

        1. It's about going back for seconds or thirds if you decide you want more, as opposed to piling your plate sky high then deciding halfway through you don't want anymore.

          And cooking enough for however many people you are serving and a day or two of leftovers.

          A lot of work went into growing it, preparing it, and an animal died for it so you better appreciate it.

          I grew up poor, if that means anything. And leftover lasagna is the best thing ever. And fried mashed potatoes.

          3 Replies
          1. re: youareabunny

            I'm not that big a fan of mashed potatoes, but when I make them I make a lot. Those potatoes mixed with onions, formed into cakes and fried in butter? Delicious!

            1. re: gaffk

              I love mashed potatoes but recipes using the leftovers are usually AMAZING.

              Raw onion?? Or caramelized

              1. re: youareabunny

                I usually mix in raw onions and leave them in the fridge overnight to get "oniony."

          2. No, I don't think one should brag about wasting things that are limited in availability, whether food, gasoline, whatever. We all do it but it is not a point of pride for me.

            I do happen to love leftovers but if you don't, you're certainly not compelled to eat them. There are other ways to minimize waste - e.g. prepare or purchase less, give it away before it goes bad, etc.

            Here is an interesting piece on the topic: http://wtop.com/1228/3491518/Gleaning...

            1. To me...
              -I would never 'guilt' someone to finish their plate. That's as wasteful and useless as throwing the food out, to me.
              -Leftovers are tasty. If you don't like how it tastes straight up, repupose in some fashion that you actually do find tasty.
              -If you still don't like leftovers then make or buy or portion out less food
              -Why spend -anyones- hard earned money on -anything- with the mindset that you fully intend to throw out a good portion of it later anyways? It's either disrespectful to the person that worked for that money or a complete waste of your own work hours (unless you're in to that sort of thing).

              1. <Sure, children are/were starving in Europe/Africa, but we can't send them our leftovers.>

                That's what thought when I was a little kid and when my parents told me that "A lot of African kids do not have food....etc". I was a very good kid, not picky about food, ate my veggie, and almost always finish my meals. Not even sure why I heard that from time to time.

                <Guilting people into consuming more than they want/need is unhealthy at a lot of levels. >

                True.

                <Repurposing leftovers into less tasty reheated dishes is not very Chowish/Maximum Deliciousness. >

                Kind of agree and kind of disagree. Some foods do not taste very good for leftovers, while some do.

                <Even at restaurants where food costs are vital, it makes no economic sense to spend $2 in labor to reduce food cost by $1>

                Not understanding how this specifically applies.

                <So can I say it proudly? "I am an American---I waste!'>

                Well, one can also do a better job at the planning stage and not over cook everything. I don't think I would be "proud" to waste.

                1. I love leftovers and often make repurposed meals out of them. It really bothers me to throw out food that I've paid for and I see it more as a waste of my own cash than as a waste of food.

                  1. No, you cannot say it proudly.
                    If you can't stand your leftovers,
                    give 'em away.
                    Or make less food.

                    Me? I make 2 weeks of dinners at once,
                    and then I don't cook. It's still fab
                    at the end, too!

                    If you don't know how to make dishes
                    that reheat awesomely, ask for some recipes!
                    (Stews and dips in particular tend to like sitting
                    in the fridge for days).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Chowrin

                      A lot of dishes, like pasta sauce, chilis, and many stews, are even better the second day and later!

                    2. if your left-overs are less tasty, you're doing it wrong.

                      if you hate left-overs, buy/make less food.

                      restaurants re-purpose food all the time. today's uneaten baked potatoes are tomorrow's mashed.

                      ~~~~~
                      "I am an American---I waste!"

                      ~~~

                      THIS is exactly why the world hates us. jeebus.

                      1. I think it's more a matter of controlling what you can control. I love leftovers, both repurposed and not, so I eat them. If you don't, then it's probably best to take a look at your cooking strategy to make sure you minimize them. I also think that the definition of "waste" could be broadened. French fries are not good leftover, and if I keep eating them after I'm full that's just as wasteful as tossing them. I'm not getting anything out of them in terms of nutrition or pleasure. But I do think it's morally questionable to be completely profligate in your waste. A lot of time, gas, effort, and often lost animal life goes into what we eat, and having some respect for that isn't a bad thing.

                        1. Taking pride in being wasteful makes no more sense than feeling guilty about it.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: GH1618

                            Actually, I agree.

                            1. re: mwhitmore

                              Hearing someone actually taking pride in being wasteful is a bit shocking to me.

                              It says a lot about the American culture (or more accurately, the lack of it).
                              I think it's kind of sad, actually.
                              I hope it was in jest, or just simply trolling.

                            2. re: GH1618

                              er, howzabout not being wasteful? ya know, like reforming your behaviors? feeling guilty is a useless emotion unless you make positive changes.

                            3. Living with grandparents born in the 1890s, for me it was the starving Armenians.

                              I grew up a member of the clean plate club, but there was always room for dessert. My mother plated the food in the kitchen and then my sister and I would carry them to the dining room. Food was portioned, and I cannot remember seconds except for birthdays and holidays.

                              I rarely remember leftovers in the fridge. And since I live without a fridge or freezer now, portion control is very important due to cost as well as waste.

                              Since morals are soooo inexact and culturally centered, I simply view my consumption of food as a constant pleasure that I am thankful for. Not a fetish.