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Against food waste

China Daily | Updated: 2013-01-28 07:51

The message the "Eat Up All On Your Plate" campaign tries to convey is not new. Our ancestors had verses about the importance of frugality in the consumption of food. But it makes a lot of sense when many are yet to have the awareness that food waste borders on a crime.

The campaign has been initiated online and thousands of people have answered the call. Many restaurants have joined the program by announcing that customers are encouraged to order half a dish and take home what they can't finish.

Photos and video clips showing almost full plates of food being dumped into trashcans in some restaurants have ignited passion to stop wasting food.

It is estimated that 50 million tons of grain are wasted every year in China, enough to feed 200 million people for a year.

True, official banquets paid with public money contribute much to such waste. But it is important that everyone thinks about how they can do their bit to reduce food waste. We need to develop the habit of never ordering or cooking more than we can eat and feeling guilty when we dump our leftovers.

Many people have a bad habit of entertaining guests with more than enough food, believing that they have not satisfied their guests' appetites if there is no food left on the table. In fact, to be a good host they order more than their guests can possibly eat and their guests eat more than they want out of politeness.

This mentality was developed when Chinese people were haunted by a lack of food before the 1980s. In the late 1950s and early 1960s when famine struck, it was considered a great event to be treated to a dish with some meat or even enough food to fill up your stomach.

Ironically, this lack-of-food mentality remains when we entertain guests at home or at a restaurant. Some think that guests will look down upon him or her if they do not have enough to eat. So they would rather order or cook more than enough.

Such a mentality needs to change. People need to be made aware that it is impolite to force guests to eat more than they are comfortable with and it is insensible and uncivilized to waste food. Even if one is wealthy, ordering more than one can eat is a bad way to show off one's wealth.

(China Daily 01/28/2013 page8)

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