Waste Not, Want Not

My son just came home from a week-long school trip to Boston. The point was for the class to learn about American history in Salem and Boston, and then head up to Cape Cod to do some research on sea plants and critters. An excellent 8th grade trip, with loads of learning and exploring.

But he confessed it was a bit boring – too many museums and lectures and not enough of he promised explorations. And he was very concerned with all the waste at meals. The class – about 32 middle school-ers and their chaperons and teachers, ate most of their meals at restaurants, and the waste was incredible and disturbing. Even a non-picky eater struggles to clear a plate of food at a restaurant and there is no way to take leftovers when you are traveling. The servings at most restaurants have become so big and unwieldy. I remember my Dutch in-laws when they came to visit us, shocked at the portion size for the chef salad at Pizzeria  Uno. They were, quite frankly, shocked. And our European friend who was just furious at the size of a soda: “how do they expect me to DRINK this”? 

Some entities are beginning to pay attention to greening food purchases.  The rating systems cited in NYS Green Spec for Food Purchases don’t talk about portion size as much as about food sourcing and restaurant operations, but it is an excellent start.

We must ensure that restaurant meals on group trips are cafeteria style, or that half portions are available with an option for seconds. That would be amazing. Good for the restaurant (waste profits no one) and for the kids, certainly. One of my favorite restaurants in Troy, NY (long gone) had every meal available as a dinner portion for $10 and a lunch portion for $6. This not only helped to avoid waste, but let me, as a tight budgeted college student, choose to have leftovers or not depending on my available funds, and I was able to eat there more often because of it.

The lesson for me is that more is not necessarily better. It is only more guilt ridden.

Be greener when you can,

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