Dear younger Michael,
Finish your damn food!
And before you respond, I don’t want to hear your weak-ass excuses.
I’ve heard it all before.
You were served too much food, or you didn’t expect the meal to be so filling.
You don’t like the taste of what’s in front of you.
The waiter got your order wrong.
Whatever the reason, it’s still not good enough.
Do you realise how many resources go into creating what’s on your plate?
First, you need to plant a seed.
Then water the seed.
Then get the right amount of sunshine.
Apply the right amount of quality soil.
Then you have to protect your plants from insects and birds.
After all of that, you might be lucky to get a fully grown crop.
At which point you harvest, wash and then send depending on where the farmer distributes their product, use transportation (burning an obscene amount of fuel) to get it to suppliers.
Suppliers then transfer to retailers.
Then you buy the crop.
Cook it and serve it on your plate.
After all of that, you have the audacity—I repeat, the audacity, to throw this crop away—because you were full, or it didn’t taste good.
Come on man!
11% of the world’s population is hungry. That’s approximately 800 million people who go unnourished daily.
And before you redirect the conversation to more pressing problems regarding food waste let me counter. I know that a third of the world’s food—1.3 billion tonnes—is wasted each year.
I’m aware that half of the food waste occurs before the food hits the shelves.
I would agree that these are pressing issues that should be fixable. But your ability to finish every meal presented to you is inexcusable. It’s a quick win. All you have to do is get to plate zero, consistently.
It can’t be that hard, right?
If it’s too much, share it. If you don’t like the taste of it, save it. If the food has gone off, compost it. Beyond all of that, think about what you’re going to eat in advance so you limit the chances for food waste.
If you have a party, enforce a plate-zero policy. I’m serious.
If you open a cafe or restaurant, communicate how much food waste is generated from your operation, and guilt people into finishing your food. Or encourage customers to take unfinished food home. Lead from the front.
So next time you order food, prepare food, buy food, or dispose of food, think about this letter. Hold up your end of the bargain by being more considerate about how you consume your food. It’s one thing you can 100% control. So don’t f*ck it up!
Oh, and if you’re eating with others, hold them accountable for finishing their food as well. Let’s optimise what we can control until we can deal with the more significant problems.
Again, it’s inexcusable.
Get to plate-zero. That should be your goal every single time you sit down to eat.
You owe it to our planet and 11% of our fellow humans that starve every day.