Don't waste food

This is not the usual "don't waste food" lecture; it's quite the opposite.
Read on...

When I have meals with friends, colleagues and acquaintances, most of the time there would be someone who would say, "Don't waste food. Please help to finish all the food." Then even though people already feel stuffed, they would force themselves to another serving of food, and the requester would have a satisfied look on his face when all the plates are empty. (Maybe he's thinking: Yeay! I made someone else fat!)

I usually would not argue against this because the phrase "Don't waste food" is universally accepted as common wisdom. When I'm the host or I'm among close friends, I would say the opposite, "You don't have to finish the food if you're full," or challenge what it means to waste food if someone says "Don't waste food".

In my opinion, forcing people to eat is the real waste of food.

Here's my chart of levels of gastronomical feelings:
(a) Hungry/Greedy -> (b) Satisfied (pleasant feeling) -> (c) Full (less pleasant feeling, uncomfortable, able to walk) -> (d) Stuffed (uncomfortable, able to move and walk with great difficulty) -> (e) Exploding (unable to move)
I've never reached point (e) but I heard it's possible to get there.

People need to eat to a certain point to feel satisfied (point b). If they continue eating beyond point (b) they start to feel uncomfortable (point c). At the end of the meal they feel uncomfortable and unpleasant.

The farmers and cooks spent time growing and preparing the food and the animals sacrificed their lives but after people eat the food they say that they don't feel good??
the real waste.

Note: The animals are already slaughtered and the vegetables cut and placed on the table regardless of whether people eat them or not. The best people can do is to estimate well and not cook or order too much food in the first place. If they still end up with too much cooked food, to avoid further wastage they should not force one another to finish the food.


K Mugunthan said...

Well, you eat to live and not live to eat..:)

JAPB said...

Totally agree.. "forcing people to eat is the real waste of food".

Hayabusa said...

I'm sorry to say that I can't agree with you in this. this might sound really unpleasant but it's my 2 cents. You do the crime, you pay the time. & in this case, the time means feelin' unpleasant on stuffin' extra food. & i think the farmers, butchers & whosoever behind food production'll prefer to see the food produced to be eaten up. if pleasant, awesome. if not, do it anyways. food's made to end up in the belly, not in the garbage can. one common wisdom in this, be prudent with the orders. when it comes to food serving on the table, deficiency's always better than excess. unfortunately too little would agree with me on that.

serene said...

i totally agree with your theory, because whenever i give ppl my theory (which is almost identical with yours, just less comprehensive), most ppl will frown upon it and think it's absurd to have that "satisfaction vs wastage" theory. i think it's the chinese (or asian) culture to generally not waste food.

i once had a lady telling me, there's a story about how if one do not finish the food, one will have to eat up all the food that you wasted in your lifetime before you become a deity. it's freaky if that happens because it will probably means a dozen or more food mountains. haha.

~Pink Miu Miu~ said...

This line is so familiar or rather ppl said it so often to me that sometimes i wish i can juz have my meals alone.. of course i feel sinful when i cant finish my food but when one's marginal utility is reached, how to go on?? Anyway i will try 'creative ' ways to do away with the Xtra mouthfuls when i forsee i cant finish 'em :P

Anonymous said...

Ways to avoid wasting food
1) in buffet - take very tiny portions, if you like the food, go for round 2 for more, else skip
2) in fast food, do not over order, just buy how much you think you can eat and finish all
3) in fine dining, if you do not like the food, politely say No thank you.

My upbringing is from a small and lower income group. My father can only afford enough food for the family, we ate basic food - rice, vege and some egg. Special occassions, we had chicken. My family values have always been - do not waste food. This value is in my blood.

I cannot agree with Yu-Kym, sorry. Best is to avoid wastage. My grandmother told me many times when I was a kid - that God will punish me by ligthing if I throw food away.

Yu-Kym said...

K Mugunthan, not true that I eat to live only. I do love food but over-eating is unpleasant to me.

serene, interesting story. sounds pretty scary haha

Pink Miu Miu, "creative" way haha. I tried that before also in buffets.

Hayabusa and (the last) Anon, I don't think either of you are disagreeing with me at all. In my post I did not mention that I support over-ordering or taking too much food from the buffet counter but you probably misunderstood that I was implying support for over-ordering. Actually I wrote in the note that people should make better estimations before ordering or cooking.

Anonymous said...


You are invited to a meal. Sometimes even to the best of my judgement, some food still remained on the table. If it's not due to the food being unpalatable, then I would encourage my fellow diners to finish the balance and not waste them.

If you are extremely conscious about your intake and refuses to at least try help and eat just a little more and remain adamant that even an extra morsel or two would be disastrous, I wouldnt force upon you as your host. It's not the end of the world but I would think that you are being too rigid in your attitudes.

In another example, if you paid for a fast food value meal and you couldnt finish the burger or the fries or you only finish a part of the waffle because you are watching your intake, I would consider that wasteful too.

Unless there are exceptional reasons, I do not have a good opinion of people who do not even make an attempt to take a couple more bites of food to leave less wastage on the table. These people gladly see the food go to waste for the simple reason that they have to watch so carefully their calories or weight!

It is as though one "fuller" than usual meal will cause their whole dietary routine to collapse beyond repair or leave their tummy so uncomfortable that they cannot endure for a while!

These people ought to be reborn poor and hungry in 3rd world countries in the midst of garbage landfills rummaging for scraps of rotten food to eat! Then we will see how they will complain with regard to taking an extra bite or two.

curious cat

Anonymous said...

I wish to also add that reckless or deliberate "over ordering" of food and the likes for whatever reason can also be akinned to wastage and irresponsbility!

When you over-order for your guests eg you presume its an act of generousity or giving... you are actually doing it without giving a thought to the fact that your diners are likely not to be able to finish the food. If you force them to finish and they cant finish...who then is the wastrel?

The culprit is you, the host!

curious cat

Yu-Kym said...

curious cat, for me it's more about the level of satisfaction I derive from eating. If I eat the right amount, I will be happy. If I eat too much, I'll feel too full to be happy.

Anonymous said...


Absolutely! I'm like-minded too. But the circumstances I described are different.

I'm the host, I accidentally over-ordered, would you oblige a little to accommodate my request to take a few more mouthfuls? Or is your "happiness" or "discomfort" too much to bear for the next few hours?

You bought a fast food value meal, would you leave it half eaten? Do you not think it's best to order exactly what you can eat and finished it all?

What would be your behaviour in the above scenarios in an ordinary situation?

curious cat

Yu-Kym said...

If I've not ordered dessert yet, then I'll have a little more because when I stop eating, there's actually still space in my stomach for dessert!

Fast food is different. It's often cheaper to buy the meal than to be a la carte. If I don't finish the carbs like fries or the soft drink, I think that's ok.

Anonymous said...

ok Yu-Kym, fair enough..but you can do a little bit better with the fries. If you are really serious into wastages and the environment, you can do completely without it if you cant finish it. But soft drinks and fries are not big deals!

curious cat