The American Meal: The Massive Waste it has Become.

 The American Meal:  The Massive Waste it has Become.

We talk of sustainability, healthy, and green every day. We try our best to manage what we use, what we don’t, and what we throw away… everywhere but at the table at our favorite restaurant.

Here we want to throw off the restrictions, the cares, and the woes of everyday life and treat ourselves and our children to a nice meal we didn’t have to cook and don’t have to clean up after. The problem is, it’s not just a treat anymore and the modern American family eats out more than it eats at home. So began the restaurant wars.

And what a war it is. Bigger, cheesier, and cheaper. Portions so large; few of us can actually eat it all. However, that is not going to deter us from getting it all, now or later. Having stuffed our faces until we can stuff them no more, we get ahold of the to-go-box and cram it full with everything we couldn’t get down in one sitting; then we take it home to top us off later while we stretch out on our favorite chair and watch American Idol.

Here’s where it gets a little sticky… pun intended. The fact of the matter is, more than half of what we take home ends up in the trash. While some restaurants have a food waste-recycling program (not enough of them by the way), at home you don’t. You simply step on the little black pedal and the trash lid opens and in the trash it goes. With all the other items from the refrigerator or pantry that never made there way into your families’ bellies.

The American Meal:  The Massive Waste it has Become.

Perhaps, and this is just a thought, if you can’t eat it all, let the restaurant dispose of it wisely. If you know the portion is too big… simply order a smaller one. That way we all use less, dispose of less, and magically… we all spend less on food, clothes, and maybe even avoid the onset of type 2 diabetes.

I could get more into the benefits of eating smarter and less, but that’s for you and your mirror to decide.

Restaurants produce millions of pounds of food waste everyday. They pile it in trash dumpsters and send it to the landfill. The most disturbing part of this is, they don’t have to. There are companies out there that can help them with this problem. Quest Resource Management Group for example, will actually take it away and turn in into something useful, like compost.

The American Meal

But just like only eating what you can in one sitting and not taking the rest home makes us feel somewhat cheated, the same goes for the restaurants … they would rather do what they know, which is pile your plate higher and higher for less money. Then they throw what we all know was a waste from the start into the trash and pay someone to take it to the landfill. The worst part of all, is that very little of what is thrown away is actually trash and can be used for so much more.

Want to reduce the amount of landfill? Don’t eat so much. Every time you take your family out to dinner, ask your favorite restaurants to offer human sized portions and not just JUMBO. Perhaps, the more of us that ask, the more they will listen and start to offer them as a regular menu item. At the very least, eat what you can and choose to patronize establishments that dispose of their waste responsibly. After all, it takes consumers to encourage change. The most powerful weapon in the world is that little piece of plastic in your wallet …wield it wisely.

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  1. Thanks, and yes I do pride myself on keeping it simple. The fact is you don’t have to research anything, just try only eating what you can, they will take care of the rest.

    Waste is waste, if we don’t eat it, we wasted it, if we didn’t cook it, dish it and play with it, someone else could have used it.

    Simple as that.

    Keep the comments coming though, I love Friday mornings when I get time to do this.


    1. Do we try to avoid waste by taking it home in foam containers? or trust that the restaurant is handling it responsibly? Or spend hours of our precious time researching the waste practices of every eating establishment in our vicinity? who’s f’n responsibility is it to ensure waste is handled properly?

      1. Personally, I would prefer the take the food home and hope for its use and put off the degradation of styrofoam for landfill mining and TDP processing, than trust the restaurant to dispose of the food with more than standard landfill practices. But then, I don;t live in a highly urban area that offers such niceties as waste food collection.

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