Every time I pay a visit to the Food court of my local shopping mall, I inevitably find myself staring at a plate that is neither full nor empty, but somewhere in between. Sometimes there is but a fraction of the original serving left – a scattering of a few assorted vegetables, bones, that sort of thing. But often I will find large swathes of food left over from the original meal. Abandoned by their owners, whose digestive systems, it seems, have suddenly and drastically shrunk in size, they are left at the mercy of those flying scavengers of the passerine variety. Most people would call them house sparrows. But whenever I'm there trying to have a feed, my preference is to refer to them as “little illegitimate children.” Or something along those lines, and of course using less family-friendly terminology. And these “feathered variants of kids born outside of wedlock” are very quick to partake in the opportunistic feeding frenzy that soon follows. And with that much food left over, there is an equally proportional amount of sparrows flying about to match, much to my annoyance. But for once, they aren't my primary grievance.
In this particular instance, the threat of a sparrow shedding its feathers or showering patrons with “presents from heaven” isn't the problem. It is the fact that people will buy a meal from one of the food outlets at the food court, sit down to eat it, and then walk away soon after with the bulk of the meal completely intact. To add insult to injury, partially full Coca-Cola and Sprite bottles often accompany them. A great day for the sparrows of course, not so much for those like me who believe that, barring sudden illness or an unexpected termination of essential life processes, everything that is put on your plate should be eaten, not discarded. The idea of food going to waste really grinds my gears.
And I suppose it should. Millions, if not billions of the world's population either subside on very little or are starving to death. For them, food is a scarce and precious commodity. To them, KFC or Carl's Jr. would be like dying and going to heaven. We in the western world, however, take it for granted. We sit down and consume bountiful quantities of food, somewhat oblivious to the conditions prevalent in countries ravaged by war, famine and extreme poverty. The obesity epidemic is an extreme example of this disparity between the haves and have-nots of the developed and developing worlds. In the developed world, people are dying because they have too much to eat. In the third world it's the reverse.
Not only that, but in many circumstances, particularly within a domestic setting, others will go to great lengths to prepare meals for others and invest a great amount of time and resources in doing so. And yet this culture of wastefulness sadly finds itself prevailing even within the confines of the household. This is not particularly respectful toward those that, for them at least, preparing food for others is a labor of love, and not just a mere obligation on their part.
So what should be done about this propensity for people to treat food as something other than the valuable and finite commodity that it really is? The solutions are really quite simple and are more or less common sense. Getting people to think things through before they take action on something is perhaps a strong starting point. Learning about how much you can eat and how to adjust proportion sizes accordingly is one good example. Being grateful for what you have and thinking about the starving kiddies in Africa is another capital idea. In any case, the rule of thumb is simply this – take only what you need and what you can consume. To do otherwise is to flip the proverbial bird at those who are less fortunate.