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A lot of food left on your restaurant plate?
By Guan Xiaomeng (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2005-12-31 09:46

Going to eat a splendid meal in a restaurant for New Year's Day and the Spring Festival? Sounds great! Our stomach can never resist the temptation of food while our hands can't but help reaching into our wallets for the sake of a kingly feast. But before you splurge, just remember: Please take away the leftovers.

It is common now for people to go eat at restaurants for family or friend gatherings and business these days, especially on holidays or festivals. As the New Year and Spring Festival are drawing near, restaurants are expecting a new money-earning pitch, with a food-wasting pitch to match.

A waiter of a restaurant in Ningbo of East China's Zhejiang Province said they have been enjoying roaring business lately around festival eve, but have seen an aching waste of food at the same time.

"People order far more than they can eat for the sake of 'face' and leave much on the table with some dishes even untouched," said the waiter. "But nearly none of our guests ask for take-away, and we just discard the food, some still warm."

A businessman surnamed Zhu, who frequents restaurants, explained that he couldn't possibly take the food away because he had his clients to accompany. "I can't take the food with me while with my clients," he said. "But I have to order much beyond our stomachs for the sake of face."

A waiter told his experience that once a boss-like man gave a long face to him when he offered the take-away service to the man because the man thought the offer made him lose "face" in front of his clients.

As to other reasons for the take-way reluctance, a lady surnamed Chen explained that she often worried about the sanitation of the food, unless the food had been left untouched. In addition, she said, the food may splash around if not well packed.

Restaurant insiders added that now the system of individual serving (a serving system that initiated after the outbreak of SARS to prevent the spread of infection) hadn't been widely promoted in restaurants. Instead, people share most dishes in the same wares despite having spoons and forks provided. As a result, they are usually reluctant to take the all-shared food away even though waiters offer the take-away service.

A restaurant manager suggested restaurants serve the two ends of "face" and saving. Instead of promoting more expensive and delicate dishes, waiters should offer reasonable advice depending on the number of people and the consumption level they want when they order meals. In this way, less food will be wasted.

It is reported that a fabulous amount of restaurant food is wasted nationwide every year while take-away has already been common in Western countries for a long time. Something needs to be done to keep wasted restaurant food to a minimum.

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