I can't speak for the rest of the world, but most of the Americans I know got admonished by their parents "Don't waste food!"
I think that's bad advice.
Wasting any sort of resource isn't good and should be avoided. But, there's a lot of other things at stake when you're talking about food. For instance, your time, your energy/health, and money.
Having gotten this strong admonition to never waste food growing up, I always felt guilty if I went out and bought some fruits or vegetables that I wasn't sure if I could finish before they went bad.
The end result? No food in the house, so go out to eat. Pay more, eat worse food.
That's stupid. That's really stupid.
Much better to buy 5 apples a week and throw 1 away, than to buy no apples and eat higher-priced lower quality food.
This has been surprisingly difficult for me to mentally re-wire - it's okay to waste food. It's not good, but it's not so bad either. Certainly, wasting food shouldn't be sacred apart from other kinds of resources like time and money - and most importantly, your health.
Waste some food if it helps you reach your goals. It ain't so bad.
I got the same from my parents. I was pondering about the "can't speak for the rest of the world, but most of the Americans I know" and while I could say the same about most Europeans I know, I was wondering if this is generational/cultural rather than geographical. At least in my case I suspect a direct link with temporal distance from WW2, or in other words a time of scarcity. Eating out was certainly not an option at that time, and you wouldn't want to leave food on your plate because you didn't know when your next meal would have been. In that situation the most efficient thing to do was to eat everything you had, no exceptions. Now that the conditions have changed and the problem is no longer lack of food, but rather excessive spending and poor quality meals as a result of eating out, the most efficient thing to do has changed.
Good timing, last week I released an app that helps you remember about the food that you have in your fridge.
One thing I also do is to batch cooking every sunday. It takes to me less than 70 minutes to cook quality meals (in my case, rice with a chicken/veggies wok and veggies soup), and as a result I almost don't have to cook from monday to thursday. So I don't eat out as often as I used to and that's better for my health and my finances!
It's better to let food go to waste than to let it go to your waist. If there's one thing worse than getting fat by eating too much yummy food, it's got to be getting fat by eating food you don't really want.
Not to mention health consequences of scenes like: "The apples/tomatoes/whatever are perfectly OK! Look, I will just cut off the bad part. We can't just throw it away!"
Cool thing is that bananas almost never get spoiled. Even if they are almost completely brown, they are still good to eat - as they merely ripened up. (Just don't confuse mashed bananas with ripened bananas). In fact, half-brown bananas are healthier than yellow/green bananas, because the starches are transformed to sugars, so they are easier to digest.
Something that helped me was to realize that wasted food biodegrades just fine. The primary hard-to-replace resource that you've wasted is somebody's time.
And with modern farming, when you calculate how little of somebody's time you've wasted and then realize you paid them for that time, it's really not so bad. You wasted a bit of money, but not much, and that's basically it.
Yesterday, I put up an image Daniella sent me on Ben Franklin's Time Tracking.
After that, we got into a bit of a good discussion on the topic. We shared some thoughts on chaos and structure, and I wrote this -
Re: time tracking, it took me a few attempts and a few false starts before I started doing it. I've gotten a lot out of it, but I'm a big believer that your tools should serve you; you don't serve your tools. Track as much as makes sense for you so you get gains out of it. I'm naturally an unstructured person actually - I try to build structure and routine in the areas that I think it benefits, while letting creativity and chaos reign where it does well. My blog is actually more on the chaotic-just-let-it-flow side - I don't have an explicit pattern or schedule for posting. I just write something every day based on whatever I'm thinking or reading or corresponding about. I try to add more structure/order in areas where it helps a lot - even after doing it for a long time, I still forget to breathe and meditate a little at the start of my day if I don't refer to my time tracking. Likewise, tracking food and spending gives me a pretty good idea of what I'm eating and where my money is going, which adds a lot of value to my life. But again, it should serve you. Try it a little if you want to improve an area, make it work for you, make it yours. If it's not serving you at that time, discard it. I don't know if I'll track forever, but I'm still seeing big gains from it.
D writes back -
Thanks for the quick reply! Have to run to a concert now, but a question did pop into my head as I thought about the unstructured person living a semi-structured life and read your response. I guess I maybe resisted time tracking because it felt like I was self imposing structure on my daily life, which would "bind" me to it in a way. I'm the type of person that naturally resists structure but when I do have it, I do my best to succeed at it.
I've never smoked pot, or even a cigarette. I think it's a stupid thing to do, and I think less of people who do it. I know people will probably start arguing about that in the comments, and that's fine.
At the same time, I think that governments banning marijuana is beyond stupid.
Let's be realistic. Marijuana is probably better for the population than alcohol. I can see arguments each way, but to me it comes down to how it affects other people. Stoned people aren't exactly a danger to society. If anything they help the economy - especially the fast food sector. Which one is worse for you is pretty much irrelevant - people can do whatever they want to their bodies as far as I'm concerned.