What Happened To The Clean Plate Club? Americans Are Throwing Out Almost Half Our Food

The scene is a familiar one: A lone child sits at the table, sullenly kicking the rungs of the chair that has become her prison. Her enemy — the pile of “stupid” and “gross” peas taunting her from the plate that she has been ordered to eat before she can leave the table, because wasting food is simply not something this family does. The Clean Plate Club doesn’t seem to be working these days either, as a new report says American are wasting or throwing away almost half our food each year.

It’s not really the fault of finicky children, either (vindication!), says Natural Resources Defense Council. Unsold fruits and vegetables in grocery stores are a large part of the problem, as well as consumers and the restaurants who serve up increasingly ginormous portions. All of that waste results in an annual loss of around $165 billion every year, according to the NRDC’s study.

“As a country, we’re essentially tossing every other piece of food that crosses our path. That’s money and precious resources down the drain,” a scientist with the NRDC’s food and agriculture program told Reuters.

We’re throwing out about 40% of the food supply ever year, with the average family of four dumping about $2,275 every year in food. If we could avoid waste by 15%, the NRDC says it would be enough to feed 25 million Americans per year, and slow the filling up of landfills.

The NRDC wants the U.S. government to study food losses in the food system and outline some goals to shoot for in order to get the waste down. Like hey, maybe don’t serve restaurant patrons a burger the size of a human head with a side of 2,948,523 french fries. Unfortunately, because we’re used to such large portions, many diners might feel as if they’re not getting their money’s worth when served anything less than a gargantuan pile of food.

In the meantime, maybe it’s time for a renewed invigoration in the Clean Plate Club, or perhaps a Don’t Put So Much Food On The Plate In The First Place Club.

Americans waste, throw away nearly half their food: study [Reuters]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Wonko the Sane says:

    I always eat all my food because I care about the starving children in China.

  2. facehugger says:

    Encouraging children to force fed themselves can’t possible have contributed to the obesity problem in America.

  3. That guy. says:

    Normal human portions, and lower prices to match, would make life better for everyone.

  4. PragmaticGuy says:

    I don’t mind getting big portions, That’s why there’s take home boxes. What I don’t like is when I see people at all you can eat buffets throwing out half the stuff they put on their plates because hell, they paid for it. People like that are just stupid.

    • That guy. says:

      When I get dragged to buffets, it may look like I’m wasting a lot of food, but it’s only because it’s typically not very good.

      I’ll take tiny portions of a variety of things, and often leave half of each thing, until I find something that tastes good enough to eat.

      • CalicoGal says:

        Me too! Why is the food on the buffets always NOT HOT??
        If I get room temp food from the warming tray, I don’t eat it. That’s just bacteria breeding ground. Where is that Health Department guy with his thermometer when you need him?

    • nishioka says:

      > What I don’t like is when I see people at all you can eat buffets throwing out half the stuff they put on their plates because hell, they paid for it. People like that are just stupid.

      That was a HUGE problem when I was at university just a couple years ago. Dorm cafeteria would give you a tray and tell you to go to town… if you sat anywhere near the tray drop-off point you could easily see what was getting thrown out. Mass amounts of food going to waste because people would get two dinner plates and load them up, then only eat a half or a third of what they took from the line.

      And these are what 18-22 year olds are doing… it’s what their parents have taught them.

      It was funny because the school actually decided to do something about the problem, namely taking the trays out and forcing you to carry your plate by hand, and people freaked the hell out.

      • birdieblue says:

        A lot of schools are moving away from the buffet model in cafeterias, in part because of this reason. All of the dining halls at the university I work at are a “food court” model, with 5 or 6 “restaurants” plus a salad bar, plus pre-packaged sandwiches/chips/yogurt/fruit. Everything is a la carte, and I see a lot less food waste than I remember when I was an undergrad 10 years ago, and every dining hall on campus was a buffet line.

        • Oh_No84 says:

          LOL, you have it backwards.
          Colleges are moving FROM the single serving model and moving to the buffet model for dorms. Most colleges have been building large new buffet cafeterias for the dorms where you swipe your card to get in and eat what you want. They all used to have the highschool “line” style where you buy certain items, but now its all buffet.

          On campus they all have the mall food court style pay per item for employees and students. That has not changed.

  5. JEDIDIAH says:

    Plates got bigger.

    In some older houses, the kitchen cabinets are too small to store modern sized dinner plates.

    • thedarkerside.to says:

      He, yeah.

      I am not from the US, but a few years ago I ended up travelling in Texas. I ended up an Olive Garden as it seemed a “decent enough” choice. I ordered one of their chicken breast menu items. Belief me when I tell you I was utterly shocked when the course arrived. It didn’t had ONE breats on it, but three and the plate was bigger than my seat. When looking around then I quickly realized why everybody in this place seems to have some serious weight issue.

      I did eat it all that night, in part because I had been travelling all day, but after that I never went back, I love Fois Gras, but preferably not made out of MY liver.

    • Kuchen says:

      I’m not sure what you mean by older houses, but my house has the original cabinets from when it was built in 1951, and my modern plates fit just fine.

  6. RedOryx says:

    I always feel guilty when I’m at a restaurant and don’t “clean” my plate because I know the food is just going to get thrown out and in some instances it won’t keep well if I get a to-go box, but portions are so freaking big.

    • erinpac says:

      Once it is on your plate, it is too late for guilt in that respect. Assuming you aren’t starving, what you eat or don’t will make little difference, unless you run away still hungry and get a snack soon… and the food they served you, whether in the trash or in your stomach, is not going to the poor children in wherever the latest sad commercial is.

      Really, if you’re feeding anything with it, you’re feeding crows, seagulls, raccoons, and stray dogs rather than the bacteria in the sewers.

  7. dolemite says:

    Mmm leftovers. Very little food gets thrown out around our house.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Yes, I’m not familiar with this concept of “throwing food away”.

    • Starfury says:

      Same at my house. I love bringing leftovers for lunch or having them one night later in the week.

      Have half a rack of ribs sitting in the fridge now…that’s Wednesday’s dinner.

      • Smiling says:

        We eat a ton of leftovers and love them. Ours almost never go to waste. We often order one takeout meal to split between the two or three of us as well. The meals are so big, they are more than enough.

        • orion70 says:

          I am but one person, but I still love to cook, and I have a weekly CSA package that I have to get through too. I am constantly making stuff and freezing the leftovers to take to work for lunches and what not. I feel super guilty if I have to toss something that I forgot about in the fridge. Someone worked hard to grow that for me !

    • Kisses4Katie says:

      Us too. I usually take half home for late dinner or lunch at work the next day.

    • orion70 says:

      There are many, many classic recipes out there that probably wouldn’t exist if people didn’t *do* leftovers. Stuff like bread pudding, fish cakes, you name it. If someone wasn’t trying to use up something they’d had left over from the day before, we’d never have these things.

  8. eturowski says:

    This phenomenon has multiple causes:

    1.) Ginormous portion sizes
    2.) Facilitating “picky eater”-ism in “precious little snowflakes”
    3.) The “I’m too good to eat leftovers” attitude

    I actually make a point to only eat half of my meal when I eat at a restaurant. The rest comes home for me for lunch or dinner the next day. It’s healthy for wallets and for waistlines!

    • RandomHookup says:

      It amazes me how many “wrapped to go” meals I’ll run across abandoned on the sidewalk if I go early into the business district near my house. If you are going to bother to ask for it to go, take it with you.

    • samonela says:

      Agreed on #3 and your closing sentence!

      In fact, in true Seinfeldian fashion, I actually ended up dumping a relationship because she had that “too good for leftovers” attitude!

    • Astranger says:

      Odd. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who had that “too good to eat leftovers” attitude. That just sounds completely foreign to me.

      • thedarkerside.to says:

        I have seen this attitude, albeit “involuntarily”. What happens is that the leftovers are taken home, then put in the fridge. Three days later they “remember” and then toss it.

        In general I would blame “germophobia” for a lot of the food that gets tossed out. The last girl I dated was appalled by the fact that I ended up finding a yoghurt in the back of my fridge I had forgotten. The “Best before” date was three weeks out. I opened it up and it was still fine so I ate it. She declared her worry for my safety for the next five hours and couldn’t belief I didn’t just toss it.

        • RandomHookup says:

          Considering yogurt is produced by bacterial fermentation of milk, you can pretty much gross out a germaphobe just by discussing its origins.

      • Brave Little Toaster says:

        I used to live with a girl who loved to cook, but would never reduce the output size even though there were just two of us and she “couldn’t eat” leftovers. She never gave a specific reason why, just that she “couldn’t” eat them.

        So she’d do a whole pot of curry in the crockpot or a huge casserole-sized dish of food and let me take leftovers for lunch til I couldn’t stand eating it anymore! It was all delicious so I didn’t really mind this arrangement…

      • Smiling says:

        My best friend’s husband is like that. He won’t touch leftovers. He also prefers canned veggies over fresh or frozen. He is so weird.

      • orion70 says:

        While I don’t know if its “too good for leftovers” as such, I do know a couple of people who think leftovers, or anything frozen, is the worst thing ever. They cook loads of food for meals, and no matter how much is left over, it all goes in the trash.

    • Kuchen says:

      In college, my roommates and I would each cook dinner for the four of us in the apartment one night during the week. At the beginning of the year, I tried to make a rule about leftovers so that one person wouldn’t eat all of them, but all three of my roommates said they “didn’t like leftovers”. So I got to eat all of the leftovers, and I spent noticeably less on food.

      • Smiling says:

        You probably ate better overall as well since you weren’t slapping together quick unhealthy lunches or grabbing fast food. I am demonic about leftovers. My husband has accidentally left them out at night, or taken mine to work with his and I get ugly. I love leftovers.

      • RandomHookup says:

        I’m always amazed by people who are such picky eaters. I guess that keeps the fast food industry running fine.

  9. do-it-myself says:

    It pisses me off whenever I leave a restaurant and pass a deserted table that has plates full of uneaten food. How unbelievably wasteful! I always always ALWAYS get a takeout box if need be. I can have the left overs later for lunch the next day! It’s also smart to eat half then take half home so you don’t gain extra weight by completely stuffing yourself. If you know you’re not going home right away, order something smaller! Eating these large portions over and over will also lead to health issues. Money saved from several angles right there!

    • JollySith says:

      I understand not wanting to do it yourself. But how does someone else not eating their own food piss you off? What business is it of yours?
      I spend a good deal of time on the road and only about half the hotels I stay in have fridges, and even fewer of them have a way to heat the food.

      • do-it-myself says:

        It IS my business when I live in a country that throws away enough food in an entire day to feed a completely different….let alone starving individuals in THIS country. Do you think it’s your prerogative and right to purposely waste food?

        Btw —> “If you know you’re not going home right away, order something smaller!”

        This also applies to any hotel stays or instances of traveling.

        • erinpac says:

          Order what smaller?
          A lot of those restaurants don’t serve anything small, so unless someone is willing to split with you (and the waiter even lets you do that)….

        • cantiloon says:

          Whether or not people finish their oversized meals or take them home at restaurants has zero bearing on the underfed population in the US. Many things don’t translate well to leftovers and many people also have other extenuating circumstances such as when they’re traveling. Most restaurants do not offer smaller portions of their entrees.

          Bottom line: your anger is misplaced. Volunteer or donate if you want to make a difference, but if half of my giant salad gets thrown away because it’s gross after sitting in a frige overnight, you’re just gonna have to learn how to deal with it.

      • Smiling says:

        It pisses me off because we live in a country full of yokels who are vehemently against food stamps, who won’t give a dime of charity to food pantries (many pantries having shortages) yet they waste loads of food. It is a slap in the face to those who go hungry.

        I seriously doubt that most people are in your circumstances, so no need to be think this is some personal attack on you. I didn’t say it, but I seriously doubt the person is speaking about people like you. If everyone ate all of the food they purchased, people would save a great deal of money. Then, these fat headed corporate farmers wouldn’t produce so much, thereby reducing the amount of government subsidies they get paid, people would have more money to give to food charities, which would lower the amount of money going to food stamps (maybe.) Overall, it would have a positive effect on our federal budget if everyone focused on conserving food. Plus, we would use fewer resources.

    • who? says:

      So, I travel a lot for work. I end up staying in a lot of hotels that don’t have fridges or microwaves, and eating in restaurants that often have ginormous portion sizes. I’ll sometimes eat appetizers instead of entrees, but the appetizers are an a la carte thing, not a balanced meal, so I end up having to order two or three appetizers to get a balanced meal. I’m a small person, so I end up leaving a *lot* of food on the table.

      • do-it-myself says:

        Where are you eating? Many places these days offer “right sized” portions that would fulfill your need for meal balance. If you are allowed to, order a kiddie meal. In restaurants, it’s the right amount of fat/calories/nutrients for an adult in most instances anyway, especially with fast food.

        • VintageLydia says:

          I’ve seen a lot of restaurants with senior and/or kids’ menus, but they often aren’t allowed to be served to the rest of us. I’ve seen a few chains with “healthy” menus but the servings aren’t usually much smaller, just things that are prepared differently (grilled instead of fried, usually) or with substitutions (rice pilaf instead of fries, egg substitute instead of actual eggs, etc.) Best case scenario for most restaurants is you can order an appetizer with a side salad or something and that is still often too much food for someone like me who normally eats like a bird but would like a more balanced meal than just loaded potato skins or something.

        • Smiling says:

          I have a lap band and generally order soup. Sometimes I will order a salad. I also purposely frequent places where I can get smaller meals. When I can’t, I split with my spouse or mom. I would venture to guess that even if you can’t split, that at least 50% of the time, you should be able to order small enough portions so as not to waste.

      • birdieblue says:

        Yeah, this. Often I’m going somewhere without a fridge after eating out – a movie, say, or a hotel, or out to a bar. In the summer, at least, I’m not going to leave my leftovers out in the car all night.

        On the other hand, during the winter, I will either leave my food in the cold car or put it in a bag and hang it out the hotel window (if it opens).

      • DeeJayQueue says:

        That’s among the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.

        Most appetizers are among the least healthy things on the menu. Of COURSE you’ll have to eat a bunch of them to get “balanced nutrition.”

        If you know you’re going to leave a bunch on the table anyway, get a regular entree that might be more healthy.

      • RandomHookup says:

        When you travel a lot, there’s not much you can do about it unless you stay in a place that has a fridge. I’ve hated to waste food, but someone else is paying for it, so there’s not much incentive to eat leftovers. (And then I arrive home after 2 weeks away to an empty fridge and spoiled milk, yearning for that leftover pasta that I could just heat up).

        At my office, we would throw away a lot of leftover food from events. I would take what I could, but there’s a point when you can’t shove any more leftovers into the fridge.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      I’m sad when I go to the breakroom at work and see parts of take out lunches just tossed away, and not even put in the fridge for the next day. Some of my coworkers “don’t eat leftovers”, so they just toss the food. I try to gently ask if they don’t want something, like 1/2 hamburger, to at least check with me as my dog loves hamburger from time to time.

      Plus, I can’t afford take out, and I secretly wish they’d just give their leftovers to me. I’d even pitch in a buck or two. **sighs**

  10. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    When I’m at the grocery store, I think “we’ll need an apple a day, they’ll probably last for a week and a half..” but in the back of my mind, I know we’ll forget to bring apples at least two days of the week, so now I decrease the amount of produce I buy. Of course, I can’t help if a grocery store has too much food on its shelves and throws out produce but I can help how much I buy and subsequently eat or throw out. We’re finally getting to the point where we eat about 99% of the food we buy, rather than tossing it when it gets a little past its prime. Subsequently, we go to the grocery store more because we run out of certain foods a little faster.

    • VintageLydia says:

      I’m doing the same. I’m going to the store at least once a week and the farmers market 2-3 times a week (depending on whether we’re out of town or not. I often miss the Saturday market.) I actually need to go to the grocery store and buy stuff for dinner tonight, come to think of it…

    • RedOryx says:

      My problem was always impulse buys, even at the grocery store. Since I switched to Aldi which was a much smaller stock of items, it’s very unlikely I’m going to buy something not on my list. But even if I do, their prices are so good it’s not a big deal. But my list itself has been greatly reduced and I rarely ever throw food away.

      I also make a really good point of going through my fridge and cupboards and planning meals around what I already have.

      • do-it-myself says:

        I love Aldi. I wish there were everywhere.

        • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

          Then I won’t tell you how I got a shredded band-aid in my shredded cheese from Aldi. I can’t make myself shop there anymore. I feel like, to save a buck, they’re buying from suppliers with poor quality control.

          I know it might happen anywhere, but I can’t get past it.

  11. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    Wait a minute. I thought we were all getting fatter and fatter, and it’s very important to make sure portions are regulated and calories are counted, and make sure school children eat the proper portions of arugula and hummus…

    …but now we’re told half of all that bad bad bad food is getting tossed out anyway.

    Make up your damn minds.

    • bsh0544 says:

      That’s pretty much what I was thinking. I don’t see anything immediately wrong with not eating everything that’s put in front of you. That’s what healthy eating is all about.

    • Smiling says:

      Did you RTFA?? I had to ask. It is obligatory. Any way, a lot of it comes from store waste–ordering too much produce, etc… We have a local gourmet store who donates its surplus to a homeless shelter. They also donate their chef’s case items, and their bulk bar items. It’s a real boon to the shelter and no food gets wasted. I would imagine it is a write off for the store as well.

  12. Bunnies Attack! says:

    Yea, as noted though, unsold fruits and vegetables are a large part of that, not just uneaten food… I understand restaurants have liability in donating leftovers to soup kitchens but what about slightly too ripe fruits and vegetables? Surely that’s better than trying to put it on sale and unload it for pennies on the dollar for PR and tax reasons…

  13. Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

    We have really gotten into some depression era thinking in our house regarding food. One example is all of the vegetable ‘scraps’ – carrot tops, rinds, leaves and greens on broccoli & cauliflower, etc. are stored and used in soups and stews. I am amazed at how much more use we can get out of what we were previously throwing away. If you can’t don’t compost it, give that a try…

    • Jane_Gage says:

      Carrot tops are mildly poisonous.

    • Smiling says:

      I always make soup when we have a lot of produce on the edge of going bad. I usually keep pasta or barley and throw some of that in as well. It’s really healthy and saves the cost of that food being thrown away. You can freeze the soup in individual servings for lunch as well.

    • Smiling says:

      One more thing, you can also throw the scraps/tops in a crock pot with seasonings for broth. Stewing random scraps all day makes a wonderful broth, especially if you happen to have a roasted chicken carcass around (you can throw them in the freezer for later.) It makes a free homemade broth that will make you weep with joy.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I love making homemade chicken or vegetable broth. It’s so useful and it really beats cooking with the store bought stuff. Occasionally you want the store bought stuff, though, for consistency across multiple batches.

  14. SirWired says:

    Are we tossing half the food supply by dollar volume or by weight? Dollar volume, I could believe: Fresh foods (Produce, Meat, Dairy) are relatively expensive (vs. shelf-stable goods) and highly perishable. Produce especially seems prone to a lot of wastage. Weight? Not so much… most of the food supply, by weight, is essentially non-perishable.

  15. notserpmh says:

    A couple of thoughts:

    1. Smaller portions eating out. Improving quality and decreasing amount should be a win in most places that sell “real” food instead of genetically modified, processes food product that is just cheap.

    2. A lot of the food at our house is wasted because of the way food is sold. We can, for instance often buy a prepackaged 10 lb bag of potatoes for less than 2 lbs of “loose” potatoes. Even though it is likely some of the potatoes in the 10 lb bag are going to grow sprouts and go bad before we eat them, we buy the bigger bag to save money. I see this for a lot of food products.

    3. Please don’t bring back the “Clean Plate Club”. I’m not saying that idea is bad for everyone, but my wife’s parents did that to her (made her sit at the table until she was part of the “Clean Plate Club” and now as an eating disorder and feels extreme guilt if she doesn’t eat all the food on her plate/offered, causing her to over eat and be over weight. Obviously this is a specific instance of issues, but what is the physical ramifications of saying “eat so we don’t waste it even if your body is full and nurioushed”? Don’t we already have enough overweight Americans?

    • Smiling says:

      Just giving you a meal idea. Keep an eye on the potatoes and if some look on the edge, make some baked potatoes with toppings for dinner. We usually buy new potatoes, so I will boil them, then smash them down and bit, and fry them in butter. We top them with baked potato toppings and have a lovely dinner. I also make roasted potato soup Both meals are super cheap, save food from being wasted, and really taste good.

      If you want to save money on groceries, you can also plan meals with the most perishable veggies coming first, then meals with frozen veggies, pasta, and canned goods coming later. There are lists on the internet that tell you which produce to use first so you can plan meals accordingly. I plan “nights” like stir-fry night, pasta night, soup night, etc… I plan it so if I bough carrots for one dish, I use them for something else. Then, if I have say carrots and celery at the end of the week, I make a Greek yogurt based ranch dressing and we snack on them. You may have to be creative, but you an save a lot and keep from wasting food this way.

  16. Guppy06 says:

    “Unsold fruits and vegetables in grocery stores are a large part of the problem”

    Buying frozen food has been consistently cheaper than buying fresh and freezing it myself, at least in my shopping experience. And the proliferation of “organic” labels in the fresh produce aisle only makes things worse.

    • bsh0544 says:

      Why would you buy fresh fruit from the grocery store with the intention of freezing it? That seems pointless.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        To not throw it away as waste.

      • exit322 says:

        In many areas, getting the fresh local produce (especially if you’re talking farmer’s markets) doesn’t happen year-round. We always buy excess and freeze it for the winter here in Ohio.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I freeze fruit when I realize it’s on the verge of going bad, but I need it to hold out for just a little while longer before I use it for cake or pie or something.

      • RandomHookup says:

        If it’s a great deal…

    • thedarkerside.to says:

      Answer to that is Farmers markets or green grocers. I also find the actual cost of fresh fruit vs. processed to be in favour of the fresh fruit. The “trick” is to eat in season. So no strawberries in January.

      • Smiling says:

        This is what we do. We really look forward to the foods for each new season too. By the end, you may be a bit burned out, but it saves cash and gives you the best quality possible.

  17. pyropixie says:

    I agree that lower prices and smaller portions to me would be the way to go – often I order off the kids menu (if they will let me) not only because of the price but the portion size. I try not to order food at places that I know I will have left-overs because I often take them home with the intentions of eating them, but forget they are in the fridge, and then I am stuck with a 8 dollar science project. (we have two refrigerators in our house, and I usually keep my food in the garage fridge to keep the roomies from tossing it or pilfering it)

    On the subject of grocery stores, its kind of a damned if you do damned if you dont situation. i used to be a produce manager, and finding the balance of too much/too little vs just enough was a bit tough at times. Customers get mad when you run out of things, but then you (i) feel like an ass throwing out food that I ordered to match what the demand was in the previous week. I hope that stores that are chucking food take the slightly bruised or not the best looking (but are safe to eat, etc.) and donating it to a local food bank. I was a huge advocate for that despite how much of a pain in the ass it was to set up.

    • Smiling says:

      Could you send yourself an e-mail reminder on your phone to eat the food? Just trying to help, as it really can save some serious cash if you consistently eat all of your leftovers.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      It IS tough, especially when you are alone. The food is too much for one person to eat before it goes bad, and even recipes are hard to manage for one person. I usually end up making two portions and having the extra one for lunch the next day.

      Planning meals is hard too. I rarely cook much since it’s just me. I hate hate hate hate hate being alone. I’d rather just not be here than go through all this crap.

  18. dush says:

    Restaurants need smaller serving size and to charge less.

  19. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “because we’re used to such large portions, many diners might feel as if they’re not getting their money’s worth when served anything less than a gargantuan pile of food.”

    Not if the price reflects the lesser food, or you improve the quality.

    I pay $15 for a giant plate of spaghetti and meatballs, but I’d rather spend $15 on a delicious AND nutritious and healthy meal. And yes, it is indeed possible.

  20. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    We need to return to a culture that goes to a grocery store multiple times a week. That prevents food waste and encourages choosing healthier foods.

    • eezy-peezy says:

      yes, but I live 15 miles from the nearest store. I don’t want to waste gas. I go shopping once every 3 weeks or so.

      • thedarkerside.to says:

        I have to ask: What kind of unprocessed food holds that long on your shelf?

        • birdieblue says:

          You buy a lot of frozen food when you live far from the store, or you freeze the fresh food once it approaches going bad. This is why many people in rural communities have full-size freezers in their garage.

          • thedarkerside.to says:

            When I still lived in Europe I had a large trunk freezer too, but that was mostly used in the summer to go to “You pick” places, load up the car then spend two days cleaning up the veggies and fruits and putting them in the freezer: Presto.

            The idea of going to a grocery store and buying vast amounts to “tie me over” for a few weeks never really occurred to me.

          • eezy-peezy says:

            exactly. 15 cu ft freezer in cellar, for 2 people. Bread, frozen vegs, etc.

        • RedOryx says:

          Freezing food is an option, too. I’ll make big batches of soup, eat some of it and portion the rest into containers and freeze them. I did this every week for a month and by the next month my dinners were pretty much all taken care of.

        • Smiling says:

          Beans and grains. Yes, they are processed, but not as much as your average loaf of bread or breakfast cereal. You can do a lot with those, like steel cut oatmeal for breakfast, a bean and rice taco for lunch, some sort of bean and barley soup for dinner, and so on. It’s hard for me to imagine living like that b/c I am used to fresh fruits and veggies. But I am sure it can be done.

  21. balderdashed says:

    The “Clean Plate Club” was a truly horrible idea, and its unhealthy message is one of the many factors responsible for America’s obesity epidemic. The idea that we should make kids feel guilty about not eating everything on their plate, when one in three is overweight, is obscene. The concerns advanced in this article remind me a bit of the “eat your peas, kids are starving in India” nonsense that was drilled into some of us as children. Sorry, Mom and Dad, kids will be starving in India whether or not Johnny eats his peas — and the NDRC’s suggestion that cutting waste by 15% would “feed 25 millions Americans per year” is just as absurd. No, it wouldn’t, because poverty is the problem, it’s complex, and it won’t be solved by the NDRC.

    It’s true that by some estimates, the world currently has one billion people who are malnourished, and one out of 8 kids in America goes to bed hungry at night. That’s tragic, but it has nothing to do with the oversized portions at your local restaurant, or with how much food you or I do or don’t “waste.” If the choice is between dumping half of what’s on one’s plate down the garbage disposal, or developing diabetes and dying prematurely, I’ll vote for the garbage disposal — and feel not an ounce of guilt.

    • fraterormus says:

      I’m one of those Gen-Xers who became a member of the “Clean Plate Club” because of my parents guilting me into eating everything I am served.

      Yes, I am 10% overweight, and yes a part of it is due to the compulsion to eat all that is put on the plate in front of me (the other part is Energy Drinks + Desk Job = Weight Gain). And yes, with Reactive Hypoglycemia I am probably but one step away from Type II Diabetes.

      However, because of precisely that I am always conscientious about what I eat, and where I go to eat out, and what I order. I don’t eat Junk Food (aforementioned Energy Drinks excepted). I don’t go to Buffets. I don’t order anything that I know isn’t going to be to my liking (I can be super-picky and I admit it). I don’t order something larger than I know I can eat. (I don’t rely on the excuse of Doggy Bags because I do not own a mammal who will eat it and reheated food personally is repulsive to me and I know it will end up sitting in my fridge until garbage day where it will get tossed out and fill me with guilt for being wasteful.) I don’t make or order food except at designated mealtimes. Most of all, I don’t let food be wasted…PERIOD.

      The upside is that I have never used my garbage disposal and I have reduced my household waste to almost 0% (most everything goes into recycling and the rest I would compost if I wasn’t an apartment dweller). I have also passed this practice on to my daughter, without the guilt that I had to carry. To her, being sensible about food, and appreciating having food, being conscientious about what we eat, how we eat, and when we eat, and never being wasteful is just *NORMAL* to her. (She laughs at our neighbors who fill two or three garbage cans of waste every week when we put out one-third of a garbage can every three months.)

      Ultimately I would like to live as I did in my childhood; raising my own produce, canning or preserving the excess that we or our neighbors cannot immediately consume, and rotating the stocks we keep in the pantry to make it through the “Lean Times”. (If you have lived with anyone who lived through either the Great Depression or War Rations in WWII, then I’m sure this practice is “normal” to you.)

      On another note: Although being a member of the “Clean Plate Club” has come in handy when visiting families of Near Eastern descent (where it is actually considered insulting to your host not clean your plate), it has actually come as a detriment when visiting families of Far Eastern descent. Apparently in many Far Eastern cultures it is considered a direct insult to your host if you clean your plate…as it is insinuating that they did not provide enough and were an inadequate host. Embarrassing!

      • Overman says:

        We’ve been practicing Depression era cooking for a few years.
        Its quite good, and much healthier than industrial food production.
        Canning isn’t about survival, but I do get a lot of green beans.
        Prep them right, and you can eat your harvest into the spring.
        Check out Ida Bailey Allen.
        First instruction on cooking a chicken is to pluck thoroughly.
        And pork chops cooked in lard are too awesome to express.

    • Smiling says:

      I do not agree that this is why we have an obesity problem. This has not be the way things are done in years, yet people are getting fat still in droves. The fat epidemic is caused by processed food, drinking soda like water, and people not cooking because they have constructed lives that are too busy, or their moms chased them from the kitchen and never taught them how.

  22. eezy-peezy says:

    I am in my 50s, and I can clearly remember being forced to sit at the table until I finished my food. And yet I can not remember what the hated food was.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      Mine was peas. I hate cooked peas, but love raw ones. I had to sit at the table and finish those awful cooked, cold peas, because children were starving in Africa. No, my mom didn’t let me mail the peas to them (yes, I asked). :)

  23. thedarkerside.to says:

    Not surprised. People have completely lost touch with where their food comes from. The obsession with “best by” dates is another problem.

    • Smiling says:

      So true. We ignore those and do the sniff test. We never get stomach bugs either.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        We’re still eating a block of cheese that was in the fridge when we lost power for four days in June. It was a huge block of cheese, it was unopened, and I didn’t feel guilty for keeping and opening it once we had power. Part of it is that a lot of mass produced cheese is preserved and takes a lot longer to get moldy. It’s August and we’re about 3/4ths of the way through.

        • NickRayko says:

          Figure that cheese originated as a way to preserve milk, and predates refrigeration by eons, and it shouldn’t be too surprising, especially if the packaging wasn’t opened. There probably aren’t any preservatives in your big ol’ block of cheese.

  24. prosumer1 says:

    The old saying “want not, waste not” apparently is ignored by both the restaurants and consumers.

    I mean, has anyone ever examine the amount of food they server in an average restaurant? Most of the time an average person would be full after eating half of the plate. Why charge someone $15 for a plate they can’t/shouldn’t finish, when you can server half of that and charge $7.50? Yes, you will have to make twice as many sales to make up for it, but if your food is good, people will show up at your door.

    This is why our food supply is in jeopardy, and we are a nation of fatasses.

    • Powerlurker says:

      Because they can’t charge $7.50 for a half-sized plate of food. Cost-of-goods-sold (i.e. the cost of food ingredients) at a restaurant is typically between 25-33%. Which means that halving the portion size of a $15 entree would only lower the price to about $12.50 at most and lead to complaints from the customers that the prices are too high and the portions too small. (the other two-thirds of the cost are labor and overhead at about one-third each). The reason that portion sizes have increased so much is that food costs have largely gone down over the years while labor and other expenses have gotten higher. Thus, increasing the plate size is an easy way for a restaurant to justify increasing their prices out of proportion of what it does to their actual costs.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      It’s huge. I can never finish all of it. I try to ask how much the portion is, not just because I don’t want to eat that much food, but because I can’t. My hiatal hernia won’t let me. If I can’t take it right home afterward and put it in the fridge, I don’t want it if it’s too much.

  25. Shorebreak says:

    There are some restaurants that offer “senior” plates which are smaller portions at reduced prices. Most of these senior menu items are the size of a normal meal rather than the gargantuan portions currently in vogue. My friends and neighbors tend to over do it when they have barbeques or dinner parties at their homes. Large steaks, chicken breasts and pork chops that most people would be satisfied with a half size. Of course when one goes to the market the steaks in the butcher or meat section all seem to be a pound or larger in weight. I guess we are living in the “super-sized” society now.

  26. shepd says:

    Nothing wrong with throwing away food, so long as you paid for it.

  27. balderdashed says:

    I’m going to Costco tonight. I’m going to buy a very big jar of mayonnaise. It will barely fit on my refrigerator shelf, and I’m planning in advance to throw out at least half of it — I’ll have to, since I won’t be able to use it all before the expiration date. But you know what: the gigantic jar of mayonnaise at Costco will still cost me less than I’d have paid for a much smaller jar at the grocery store down the street. So, though I’ve “wasted” all that mayonnaise, I’ve saved money by doing so.

    My point: People generally make rational decisions, based on their self interest. Advocacy organizations like the National Resources Defense Council typically have an agenda that expects people to make irrational decisions — for the sake an ideology, in the name of their notion of the greater good. They throw in some “save the planet” or “feed the poor” guilt, when the behavior they demand would do neither. Sorry, I’m not buying it. I’m buying mayonnaise.

    • JJFIII says:

      You are delusional if you think people make RATIONAL decisions on ANYTHING. The fact is most people do what they THINK is most cost effective. If you think you are so good,. Let me know the price per ounce of the mayo you will buy at Hellman’s, and then go to a local store and find out if you had gotten the item on sale what it would have cost you. Throwing out half is an irrational act in and of itself. You could not talk to a neighbor, coworker, friend, or family member who might want to split the jar with you? Maybe more than one? The fact that you would throw it out rather than get money for half of it PROVES you are not rational, but take the lazy way out.

      • menty666 says:

        Plus it’s not that tough to make a bit of mayo if you really wanted to. Me? I usually just buy the store brand and get the smaller jar.

      • balderdashed says:

        So what’s “not rational” about taking the “lazy way out?” You apparently don’t believe in that adage attributed to Ben Franklin: time is money. Let me get this straight: to avoid throwing out half a jar of mayonnaise, you would have me track down a neighbor, coworker, etc., and dump some of the product out of my jar into a container provided by him. Are you kidding me? In a sense, the extra half jar of mayonnaise cost me nothing, since I would have otherwise purchased a smaller jar, which would have cost as much as the big one. But, even at minimum wage, the time invested in your scheme to make sure somebody eats the damn extra mayonnaise would make it the most expensive condiment I’ve ever bought. C’mon, mayonnaise isn’t an endangered species, to be saved at all costs. I’m going with Franklin on this one.

        • cantiloon says:

          Seriously. That’s some crazy talk spending a bunch of time and hassle over $2 worth of mayo. I’m honestly surprised at how obsessive a lot of comments in this thread are about how people deal with their own food. The thing is, that’s perfect fine. What’s not fine is thinking and telling other people what to do with their food unless it is causing harm somehow, and throwing out some mayo causes no one any harm.

    • thedarkerside.to says:

      You know the “best before date” isn’t the date it will suddenly go from delicious to toxic, right? If you fridge is reasonable cold it can easily last longer. I always inspect my food and don’t really go by the “best by” date who tend to be very conservative to make sure they won’t get sued if something spoils.

    • mauispiderweb says:

      You could just go halves with a friend and split the jar.

      • cantiloon says:

        I’ve never met or heard of anyone ever doing such a thing with an inexpensive condiment. It’s just not worth the time and trouble to most people.

  28. JonBoy470 says:

    I was a member of the Clean Your Plate Club. I stayed with my grandmother while my mom was at work, and my grandmother grew up during the Great Depression…

    The issue today seems to be portion sizes, and efficiency of the distribution of food to stores…

    • thedarkerside.to says:

      Stores are actually pretty good limiting the amount of food they throw away. Most of the waste happens actually on the producers side. How? By the buyer rejecting entire pallets for minor imperfections. The way it seems to work is that Buyer A puts in a huge order with the farmer to get a lower price. They then set a date for pickup whereupon an inspector from the buyer comes by to “check the produce”, they then reject anything that isn’t “up to standards”.

      If they are really nasty they may be even late and the stuff sits outside for hours, preferably in the hot sun so that it nicely spoils at least part of it.

      In the end the farmer is stuck with produce he can’t really sell anymore but has to agree to the lower price. Profit for the purchaser.

      Oh I am sure this is all just coincidence, but several farmers, especially in Europe, have come forward about this “practice” over the last few years.

      • Pagan wants a +1 button says:

        This makes sense. We have a local dairy that we’ve tried to support by buying their glass-bottled milk and cream instead of the stuff from the big dairies. When we first started, the store had a return policy for the bottles. The next time we tried it, they looked at us like a bull at a bastard calf and said they’d never had such a program.

        Out of four purchases, two were mysteriously spoiled by the time we got it home. As much as I want to support the little farmer, I can’t afford to pay top dollar for dairy when I can only use it half the time.

  29. GrillinBurgers says:

    I’ve always thought “Half price for Half portions” was a great idea.
    Too bad most restaurants won’t do it.

    • thedarkerside.to says:

      As someone mentioned above, food is actually not the biggest cost centre for a restaurant, hence why they can easily “double the food” for a few cents.

  30. dru_zod says:

    The reason so much produce is going to waste is this: picky people. While selling produce I have seen people refuse to buy a bushel of beans because some of the beans had dirt on them. DIRT which could be washed off easily. I have seen people reject an ear of corn because it had a single, small worm in the end that could have easily been cut off, leaving 95% of the ear untouched and uncontaminated. A nearby packing house discards truckloads of tomatoes that are undamaged except for very small bruises, just because some picky person in a grocery store wouldn’t buy it unless it is perfect. When people learn that not everything can be perfect, then maybe we can stop throwing literally tons of food away that is absolutely fine to eat.

    • Smiling says:

      I would love to have the chance to buy these tomatoes at a discount for fresh tomato soup or marinara, etc… I hate paying so much for tomatoes going into a puree.

      • eezy-peezy says:

        In walmart I saw the produce guy picking out blemished Roma tomatos, I asked if he was going to mark them down (thinking of sauce). Nope, had to throw them out.

  31. JJFIII says:

    I have never understood forcing a person to eat something they do not like. If mom did not like peas, she wouldn’t make them, BUT because she does, the child is forced to eat them? Maybe mom should try ot find other foods that are healthy that the child will like. I hated brussel sprouts growing up and had many a war with my dad because even the smell made me feel if I would vomit. My mom was smart enough to try to make some different veggies for me and realized though I hated brussel sprouts, I really enjoyed green beans and broccoli and carrots. Peas and corn were disgusting to me.
    I do not see any benefit to forcing people to eat things they do not like.

    • menty666 says:

      We have a rule in our house, you have to try at least one bite (though I generally push them to two). If they legitimately don’t like what’s served after giving it a chance, I’ll let them have a PB&J as a substitute.

      I’ve also told the kids to keep trying, there might be a way of preparing something that they DO like. I hate cooked carrots, but I like them raw, for example. I’ll even let them try a little dressing with raw veggies if it helps get them into eating them.

      But, we have one kid that’ll be good about fruit and veg, and another that won’t touch them. Whatayagonnado?

      • Delicious Spam is delicious says:

        our rule is 3 bites with water in between if needed.

        • Pagan wants a +1 button says:

          Same here. I figure a kid can only hold their breath for so long.

          But the other rule is, if you really don’t like it, you really don’t have to eat it. I don’t eat foods I don’t like; why should my child?

    • Brave Little Toaster says:

      This attitude is how people end up like my college roommate: extremely picky. She wouldn’t eat any food that was touching another one (exception for meat touching bread on sandwiches), meat and cheese together, any type of red sauce, any casseroles…the list goes on.

      Her parents gave in to the typical “I don’t like it!” ways when she was younger and now she won’t eat hardly anything. We eventually stopped inviting her to dinner with us because she would always complain that she could never find anything to eat at the restaurants.

      So while I accept that there are things that kids don’t like, I don’t think the first step should be to get them a substitute. Parents should persist a little and keep exposing their children to a variety of foods.

      • Smiling says:

        I was a very picky eater as a child and am very adventurous now.

        Most kids are picky for the most part because they are sensitive to bitter and their taste buds are very “active” compared to an adult’s. Taste buds dull as we get older, so we are more apt to eat foods that tasted strong and overpowering to us as a kid. It’s not just kids being spoiled assholes, they legitimately have more sensitive taste buds than we do. They will often start branching out around puberty. Then, when we hit around 24-25, we have another change in hormones that will generally allow us to start being yet more adventurous.

        • eezy-peezy says:

          yes, but today’s kids are being overly catered to in a way we never were. When I was a kid there were two things on the menu. Take it or Leave it.
          Now kids get special meals cooked for them instead of eating what the parents are having.

          • ninabi says:

            I agree with you that children are being catered to- I’ve seen some parents who fear their child will die of starvation if they don’t get their special foods.

            We had guests not too long ago who brought their four year old with them. When I asked if there was something special I could fix, they said the preschooler ate four foods and four foods only- milk, bread, one brand of crackers and one brand of pre-made chicken pieces.

            I kept my mouth shut, but as a parent myself, it left me wondering what would happen to the kid if the store suddenly happened to be out of those items.

      • You Can Call Me Al(isa) says:

        Way to be condescending. There are a lot of reasons people may end up being a “picky eater.” Some people are super tasters, some have anxiety, some have phobias, some have OCD, some have Selective Eating Disorder, etc. It’s probably not because parents “gave in” to them as children. I have the same issue as your friend, probably not as severe, but it’s hard enough being the person trying to deal with it and get over the pickiness without having “friends” like you who look down on us picky eaters for it.

        • Brave Little Toaster says:

          Trust me – we catered to her tastes as much as possible and gently asked about what we could do to include her. She outright admitted that she refused to eat things as a kid, her parents didn’t push her to try different tastes, and that’s why she is picky now. She out agree that she was difficult to eat out with and didn’t mind that we would go to get Indian food without her because she didn’t want to sit there and eat plain rice while we all had curry.

          So while I can understand that there are disorders and actual biological reasons why people are picky, this girl isn’t part of that group.

      • trellis23 says:

        Theory flawed. My parents never gave substitutes, made me sit at the table for hours to eat whatever they cooked whether I liked it or not. I am still an extremely picky eater (although I have gotten better in the last 6 or so years).

      • rslitman says:

        Sounds like me, but I don’t even like meat touching bread in sandwiches and wraps! As for not eating meat and cheese together, was she perhaps raised in a Kosher home? The Kosher diet prevents meat and dairy products from being served together. I was raised Kosher, but that’s not my problem with such things as Philadelphia cheese steaks, cheese burgers, etc. I just don’t like cheese, period! And ironically, I did eat both American cheese slices and Swiss cheese until I was about 5 or 6 years old! I don’t go for most red sauces, either (although certain brands of Ketchup from the bottle, including Heinz, are okay to me, but I don’t like those super-tomatoey ones my mother had to serve during Passover). This means I don’t eat that horrible-smelling, horrible looking concoction that I thought was spelled peetza the first time I ever came across it.

        I actually like some casseroles, unless they contain cheese, mayonaisse, mustard, tomato, or some other such stuff that I don’t like.

        Yet, there are still a lot of things I like. Back to the red sauces for a moment, I like some types of barbecue sauce. From the store, I like Open Pit.

        I feel so bad for her that she got excluded from your dinners. I wish you could have been more patient with her. I have had many co-workers over the years who kidded me about my dislikes but still enjoyed my companionship.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      A) If you never made kids eat things they “don’t like” they would eat crap for food their entire life.
      B) Childrens’ tastes change as they grow older.
      C) Sometimes kids are fussy to be fussy. They will refuse to eat something because it’s new, not becuase they don’t like it.

      • JEDIDIAH says:

        D) Sometimes life does not allow you to be picky.

        You need to be able to handle that when it comes up.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      While I don’t condone forcing a kid to eat a whole portion of what they don’t like, I do support the one-to-three bites principle. Some foods are a bit of an acquired taste, and it takes exposure to get there. It took me a lot of tries to finally be able to enjoy “Chinese” food. If you don’t make a kid try food they’re uncomfortable with, they may end up on that British show that’s about freaky eaters. Fate worse than death.

      • Brave Little Toaster says:

        Yes – this is the approach I would support as well. It’s new, how do you KNOW you don’t like it? Life will be a lot more interesting if you’re willing to try new things.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          This works, but it totally backfired on me when I dated someone who had a child. The kid used the same logic back on me to try her “spaghetti sandwich,” which consisted of spaghetti in meat sauce, on buttered bread. YECCCH.

          Hey, I DID try it. Also, after that, it was a little easier to convince her to try something new. And if I served something new, I tried to surround it with stuff I knew she would eat.

          • Red Cat Linux says:

            Hey… I tried that. Spaghetti sandwiches had to be Chef Boyardee spaghetti though. Regular home made stuff had the wrong texture or something.

            It’s not bad.

          • erinpac says:

            I’m somewhat picky myself, but a kid could’ve handed you a lot worse than that under the guise of try it.
            Spaghetti is good… and a lot of people eat bread with it… and a lot dip the bread in the marinara…. but if it’s on the whole bread at once it is Yecch?

            Messy, sure, but I did that with my mom’s spaghetti all the time. I wouldn’t do that anyplace nice, but at home it meant all the meaty sauce didn’t slither off the noodles and escape. It’s more or less the same thing, just a different shape.

      • Pagan wants a +1 button says:

        I was at a restaurant the other day, ordered something adventerous and hated it on the first bite. But forced myself to take the obligatory two more bites and decided I loved it. That plan works even for adults!

    • JaundiceJames says:

      Me too. I hated mayo but my dad couldn’t be bothered to leave it off my sandwiches. I’m glad he’s dead.

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      I am NOT a picky eater. But there is a short list of things I simply won’t have anything to do with.

      I spent many a meal sitting at the kitchen table, forced to sit there with a plate of shit I was not ever going to eat, didn’t ask for, and refused to eat. Thirty years later, most of the foods on this list still can make my gag reflex kick in: liver, saltfish and ackee, callaloo, any soft-cooked form of runny yolk egg, beans/peas – with some exceptions, mushrooms and okra.

      At the end of the standoff, I had no supper at all and went to bed the same way. In the “eat this or have nothing” war, I was pleased to have the option of nothing if any of the above were the only choices.

      While I don’t ever think parents should turn into short order cooks for their offspring, torturing them in this way is no good either.

  32. Carlee says:

    I was taught never to waste food, so I rarely throw anything out. If there are bugs in it, then yes, but if it’s perfectly edible, I’ll eat it. Even if it’s sat in the fridge for a day or two.

    I still remember when I was in the 1st grade and we went on a field trip to a local eatery famous for their pies. We each got a slice of cherry pie – it was the first time I’d ever had cherry pie (maybe the 1st time for pie at all) and I didn’t like but I couldn’t just leave the slice sitting there. and then one of the chaperones told me I didn’t have to eat it if I didn’t want to – what a foreign concept it was!

    When I eat out, I always get a to-go box if there’s food left. Even if it’s something I don’t like (like melons) – I just don’t want to be wasteful. My coworker, who sometimes eats like a bird, will usually take leftovers with her, but rarely ever eats them. She’ll leave it in the work fridge for a couple of days and then toss it. At least give it to the homeless people who line our streets to our office building!

    • Powerlurker says:

      Those homeless people don’t want your leftovers. If they wanted food there are places that will feed them.

      • Chuft-Captain says:

        So all the very hungry homeless folks are what, just too lazy to go to the soup kitchen? I imagine quite a lot of them would LOVE some leftovers.

      • RandomHookup says:

        That’s usually true. Food is fairly easy to find when you are on the street. Money for booze or drugs, on the other hand…

  33. SuperBK says:

    I agree with “That guy” – If restaurants would just cut the portions and the price to match, we would all be happy. Maybe we would even trade some of that food money for drinks, which are more profitalble.

    • jumbojeepman says:

      The problem is restaurants can’t cut in the amount of food given in half and cut the price in half. Food cost only represents about 25% of the typical bill, the rest is labor and building overhead.

  34. dcatz says:

    Try buying food as a single person or a couple with no children. There are lots of things that are impossible to buy in reasonable quantities because apparently it is too difficult for people with children to simply buy two of an item.

    • wen says:

      Totally agree with this!

    • cantiloon says:

      So true. I eat about 4 slices of bread per week, but have to buy over 20 at a time. Thankfully, I can buy milk and creamer in smaller quantities. I loved when you could buy biscuits in frozen bags, but I haven’t seen them in a while, so I have to buy 5 or 6 and eat one or two at most. I waste tons of food, but I it’s either that or force myself to eat expired food, or eat everything on time and weigh 300 lbs.

      • generic user says:

        We keep our bread in the freezer then pop a slice or two into the toaster oven for a few seconds to thaw it out.. A loaf of bread lasts us months.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      *cheers* Yes! This!

      I end up buying my food at the deli counter so I can get a small enough portion. I can’t use a whole package of bacon or ground pork before it goes bad, but I can get 1/2 lb at the counter. It just makes trips to the store take forever.

    • RenegadePlatypus says:

      I had a friend with this problem. The problem seemed to exist after I explained the purpose of that huge cold electronic box with doors in the kitchen that he was storing his shoes in, and that clear wrapping paper that he was using to wrap his Xmas presents in. I do miss being able to see what I was getting before unwrapping the presents, and he seems to miss having nice cold sneakers to slip into on a hot day. But the food quantity / waste issue is no more.

  35. Bob A Dobalina says:

    Obviously food waste is increasing because there are fewer starving children in China

  36. SilentAgenger says:

    Well, I realize this is just a drop in the bucket, but for starters: If bread was also widely available to purchase in a half-loaf size, I bet there’d be a lot less moldy bread being thrown out.

    I do make it a point to freeze leftover bread at a certain point so I can use it to make toast later on, but I don’t always catch it in time to avoid that dreaded mold. Bread’s gotta be fresh, and I would almost always purchase it as a half-loaf if it was available in that size. Seems like a logical idea, and yet I never see it…is there some sort of “Big Bread” conspiracy preventing this from happening?

    • Jevia says:

      I agree that its our ‘super-size’ country that contributes to food waste. So many items in grocery stores are sold in “club packs” that are huge. Sometimes, those club-packs are less expensive than buying a smaller quantity of the item.

      For example, I can buy 4 peaches individually for $5.00 or buy a ‘club pack’ of 6 peaches for $4.00. So, I buy the club-pack, but then don’t eat all the peaches before the extra 2 go bad. Still, I’ve saved $1.

  37. Harry Greek says:

    Further proof that the American consumer is just a spoiled little brat.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      Or that packages of food are too big.

      • JEDIDIAH says:

        They haven’t changed since the 70s.

        Restaurant portions are bigger but you can still buy by the item or by the ounce in a grocery store. A loaf of bread is just as burdensome now as it was in the 50s. Other items are packaged in a variety of sizes and many things that are “packaged” have a long shelf life anyways.

        Also, freezers have not disappeared from the planet.

        • Cait says:

          But the average household size has changed since 1970 from an average of 3.14 people to 2.6. There are fewer mouths to feed in each home so the food goes to waste faster. Also, Costco and Sam’s Club were both founded in 1983. The environment has changed.

          You also better believe the definitions of when a food product has gone bad and must be thrown away by a restaurant or grocery store are much more strict than 1950, which is why there’s so many crazies who dumpster dive for “perfectly good” food.

  38. Demilio says:

    I love 5 guys burgers, but damn they fill the bag up with more friends than is in the actual fry box.

    • ichiban1081 says:

      So true. I remember the first time I went there after hearing about how good the burgers were. Ordered a burger and small fries and was a little surprised it was a little costly but wanted to try it. Waited for my order and got my bag, but before I could even take 2 steps out of the pick up area the lady called me back and yelled “Top off!”. I felt nervous like I did something wrong and the lady proceeds to dump a whole tray of fries in my big greasy bag. Loved it!

  39. energynotsaved says:

    I’m of the school that you offer the kid the food and they try it. If they don’t like it, try it again some other time. That said, when my daughter was 4 (and super tiny), she wouldn’t each anything except pork and beans, milk, apple juice, and some cracker. I asked her doctor what should I do? He said, “actually, this isn’t too bad. Give her a vitamin. Keep offering other choices. Eventually she will tire of the pork & beans.” I did as he directed and she resumed normal food choices in a couple of weeks. Over time, she became adventuresome with her eating.

    My niece, however, is, even at 16, a very picky eater. Her parents let her get away with it, and it is a nightmare to go out to dinner with her.

  40. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    I admit I am very poor at leftovers, that’s why I really like it if a resto’s got half portion options. It’s just that there are a few things I find appetizing even when reheated – like soups, or saucy pastas. One thing I absolutely love is reheated Pad Thai and curry. Things like fried chicken, not so much.

  41. reybo says:

    The “clean plate club” is the major cause of obesity in the world. As every school teacher and social worker knows, parents, the poor especially, are more likely to make wrong choices than right ones.

    • Kat says:

      No doubt. Is it any wonder my two cousins, who were forced by their 400-pound mother and 500-pound father, to finish every last bite on their plates at every meal, even finish all their seconds if they got seconds, are now both over 400 pounds themselves?

  42. buzz86us says:

    As a hotel worker myself I must ask that you ALWAYS book with the hotel unless you get a significant discount I personally don’t see why people book a hotel on one of these sites at full BAR while some paid a bit more. People were ticked off at me because I was going over the rates here which was lower here is some advice DON’T BOOK ON THIRD-PARTY SITES.

  43. Kenshiroh says:
  44. GingerMom79 says:

    Since my son starting eating solid food we gave him meat, veggies and fruit. We didn’t give him processed junk food. Plus whenever we have dinner we always give him what we are eating (unless it’s something that is too spicy). The majority of the time he eats it. Everyone we encounter is always surprised at how well he eats…I think it’s all about the parents and how they treat the food.

  45. Chris 66 says:

    Recently when dining with a group of women friends, I was the only one that got a ‘to go’ box. I could not believe the amount of food that they left behind, easily more than half! One of the women responded that it was embarassing that I was taking my food home – and the rolls that were in the bread basket that would be tossed out. What’s wrong with taking it home? Why would you leave all that food that’s paid for to be thrown into the garbage?

    Do YOU think it’s embarassing to get a ‘to go’ container?

  46. orion70 says:

    I think grocery stores (at least the ones near me) could reduce a lot of tossed food if they purchased more locally, instead of food that has trekked across the country or several countries and was already on its way to degrading long ago.

    I invested in a CSA this year and I have been amazed at how long the vegetables are lasting in my refrigerator. Salad greens I would buy at the grocery store go bad so much faster than the ones I picked up from a local farmer.