If there is one thing that I absolutely cannot tolerate, it’s wasting food. I try my very best not to leave any morsel of food on my plate after eating. I serve myself small portions and if I feel that I want more, I’ll take a second helping. Of course I leave spices such as cinnamon sticks or star anise. Athe yepdi sapderuthu.. (How to eat them..)
But, in our culture, wasting food is counted as decent. In my family, leaving some food on the plate and leaving two gulps of beverage in glass when eating at functions or at other people’s houses is considered the ‘proper way to eat and drink’.
If I clean up my plate and didn’t leave a drop of what I drink, it is considered I am not stuffed enough and the host is obliged to fill my plate and glass until I get so stuffed, I can’t eat or drink no more, I finally leave some food uneaten. But, I make it a point to vehemently refuse anymore food if I’m too full.
I really miss the days where there will be banana leaf lunch/dinner at weddings. We will get served by people and eating on banana leaf has it’s own distinctive taste – it’s a wholesome experience. And, since there is the promise of payasam at the end of the banana leaf feast, it is motivation to get every grain of rice into our mouths to make way for the glorious payasam spread.. Oh my, how long it has been since I ate like that. I am sure many of you share my feelings… Orey peelings ah irukke..
Self service and it’s direct connection to wasting food
Banana leaf meals in weddings have become extinct at present. In weddings and wedding receptions/engagements, buffet style is the order of the day as well as meals with courses – all of it boils to self service and eat all you want basis. With that as a reason, in the name of tasting, wasting food has become a norm.
I have seen many times, in the aforementioned events – people pile every item on the buffet spread on their plates. 3 types of rice, 4 types of meat cooked differently, curries, patties, veggies and fruits. A mountain would be on their plates. Keataka, taste panni paakuranggelam.. Some even justify the piling of food as cancelling out the moi kaasu (money gift) they gifted the bride/groom/birthday girl/birthday boy, etc. Some people don’t eat the whole day if they are invited to functions and in extreme hunger, they bite more than they can chew, wasting food just like that without any remorse.
The size of humans’ stomach is just both hands put together and the level scale of them. The stomach can only expand to a limit. Hunger is triggered by the lateral hypothalamus in the brain. Adiposogenital dystrophy is excusable. My nephew shows signs of this Frolich’s syndrome – he loves to eat and asks us to feed him whenever he sees us eat. It’s a medical condition and it should not be confused by gluttony. Note this point: a misplaced desire of food or its withholding from the needy
I want to share an experience with you. I was at Teluk Batik with my family and I saw many skinny kids clumping together – their ribs were visible and they were pale. Upon questioning, we learned that those children are from an orphanage and they are given vegetarian meals, thrice a day. The trip to Teluk Batik was sponsored by a charity organization. My mother was so moved with the children’s gaunt appearance, she cooked a feast for them on my birthday and we served them. The delight and light from the malnourished kids’ faces is the best birthday present anyone can get. Money can’t buy it.
We live in a world where there are people dying because they eat too much in one part of the world and people dying because they have too little to eat in other parts of the world.
Wasting food in disguise of religious rituals is also rife. Breaking dozens of coconuts on Thaipusam. Not only it is wasting food; it causes pollution as well. The significance of breaking coconuts is surrendering ego so just 1 would suffice. The number of coconuts being broken does not please Lord Muruga – only true devotion will. After all Murugan Himself has ascetic manifestation – dressed only in loincloth. Lord Muruga does not expect lavishness on Thaipusam – we have misinterpreted religion because we now live in excess. This also makes the price of coconuts skyrocket.
Wasting food is wrong in every way. There are many hungry tummies out there who would think the food you just dumped into the trash can as god sent. Here’s an excellent example on how leftover food would feed the hungry:
Of course, such a system doesn’t fit Malaysia but one can start by not wasting food. In my sister’s in-law’s household, along with sidelining pieces of chili, curry leaves, onion, etc, they sideline rice with them, worth 2 to 4 mouthfuls. I discovered this habit of wasting food of theirs when my nephews stayed over here during school holidays. My mother reprimanded them wasting food but they are back to their home since and I doubt that they are following their grandmother’s words through.
Stop wasting food. Those who wantonly waste food should be left in Somalia. Appo than saapadu odeh arumai teriyum. Eat mud cakes as a substitute for rice. Think twice before piling your plates sky high – can you eat all of it?