Food Waste and the Starving European Children

I do not waste food. I eat everything on my plate, even things I don’t need and that could even be harmful. At times, I admit, I am a human garbage can, but I cannot bring myself to leave any of it. I know that any food I don’t enjoy and don’t need is already waste, and eating it does not change that fact.

This habit was ingrained in me from early childhood when I was told over and over not to waste food: “The starving children in Europe would love to have the food you are leaving on your plate.” (Asian children were not yet recognized by American families, not purposely ignored, just forgotten.) Everyone my age was told that. So today, every time I eat, I am subconsciously thinking of those poor European children standing in rags, looking at me with soulful eyes, holding an empty plate, wanting what I have in abundance. It has become part of who I am.

Let them have it, I have often thought.  Do you want me to spoon it into a Dixie cup? Who do I send it to?

My wife’s early childhood was very different than mine. She will always leave a tiny amount on her plate and never take the last cookie in a package. Her early years were in an Arizona Internment camp for Japanese-Americans (she and her mother were born in California) where they ate their meals in a common mess hall. Her food was dispensed by someone else, so leaving food on her plate was the message that she had been given more than enough to eat. Nobody mentioned to her the starving European children. She had never heard that phrase so familiar in my childhood.


About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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