Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wasted Food

Someone recently posted a question to my yahoo group:

"My daughter will constantly ask for food but not finish it or will ask for something, take a bite or two and then say she wants something else"

My response:
The overall reason why I wouldn't make a big issue out of this is because I choose connection over a power struggle. I choose the make our relationship the first priority over worrying about "wasted" food. The cultural idea of wasted food is a very conditioned way to look at a situation like you shared. Our parents and their parents lived in a very different mindset about these things. It was very much "parent-led eating and meals" back in their day.

In regards to food, I find ways to meet my children where they are and get creative.
I've thrown foods that they haven't finished in soups, or salads, for the next meal, if I don't feel like eating their leftovers that day. Or I throw what they didn't eat in the fridge, or give it to our birds. We have friends whose dog gets all the kids uneaten things. We also compost. It's all part of our great circle of life and usage of food. ;)

For dinner Tiff, 8, takes more food than the other kids. She usually puts everything on her plate that she can fit. She never eats it all, but she loves the look and feel of abundance on her plate. I don't try to change her, but support her in her needs. She enjoys feeling that she has more than enough and it is a secure feeling to her. There are times when one of us will kindly ask her to leave enough of this or that for everyone, she does. Also, I will just wait and let everyone else take what they want because I know I will just eat the potatoes on her plate that aren't finished.
Our children are aware that as a culture we are very fortunate regards to food. We discuss poverty and starvation in the world and their gratitude for their life is apparent. They are very aware children. I do not try to make my children feel bad for their abundance and guilt them into finishing what is on their plates.

I like to be flexible and understanding and go with the flow. Food, like money, is only energy. There is always enough and I never feel like any of it is wasted. Every use of it is of value.

Children don't eat like adults usually. They have a unique way of experiencing foods and eating. I embrace this about my kids and meet them where they are. I am the one who can choose to connect with them and find ways to get creative, or I can Choose to force and coerce them to eat like I think they should and in turn have negativity and power struggles over mealtimes and snacks. I choose to observe their choices, help them get what they want and respect how they choose to interact with their food.

In my opinion no food is never "wasted". If the money is already spent, what difference does it make whether or not you child eats it, or the raccoons and rats at the dump do? Seriously, I love the fact that we are feeding the wildlife and insects with whatever we don't eat. I never see anything my kids don't eat as "waste". I feel such a part of every living thing and know they we are feeding an extention of ourselves in whatever living thing consumes what we don't eat.
You'll never hear me tell my kids to "clean their plates", or that there are "starving kids in China", like many of us were told as children. I will always honor how much they choose to consume and then be joyful in giving our food back to the Earth in a respectful, loving way.


SibeFamily said...

Hello Martins!! I am so glad to be reading all about you on your wonderful blog! I just got Dayna's book today, and I really like it. I am planning on starting to home school after thinking long and hard about it. (11 yrs!) I'll try not to regret the time that has gone by, since I just must not have been ready. I am happy to have your beautiful family as a sparkling example for me, my husband and our boys, who are 7 and 12 yrs old! Thank you so much!

Shady Lady said...

Perhaps in an attempt to be nothing like my parents, it never occurred to me to get worked up about throwing food away. If Princess doesn't finish it almost always ends up getting thrown away or composted or...

Happyface said...

This is something I struggle with. My step kids enjoy a variety of snacks more than they enjoy big meals. Sometimes I have an issue with cooking a meal and they don't want it, so I get upset and it guilts them into eating. This makes me feel horrible!

I know it is MY issue, and that they should never be guilted. So I have tried to be much more flexible in what I can cook for them, and not think of anything as a waste because of that viewpoint you shared with us -- that viewpoint of abundance, of things not being wasted, everything is valued.

My own mindset is what is hindering my stepchildren. Your writings are what helps us to feel more joyful about ourselves and our home.

This is a good reminder to me of how food should be viewed. thank you.

mamak said...

Awesome Dana. I love when these topics that you write about have a way of seeding themselves in my "tool box" This way, if I ever have a moment when I am feeling like I am asserting my thoughts over them, like please finish that up, or don't take so much... I will have this thought already in que, and before I utter those words, This though will have already germinated in my conciousness, and will quiet that notion.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on the leftovers. If we don't finish something, we can save it for later. Saran wrap is a beautiful thing, and so is the food saver. I'm still getting there with composting.

Happyface said...

mamak, lovely way of putting that! This is exactly what's going on in my head, too.

Faith said...

And chickens if you can :-) our chickens gave us delicious fresh eggs in return for my childrens leftovers.

Dragonfly said...

I second the chickens!!! They love meat, beans, grains, vegies, and fruit. What else can I say.

Lily said...

Beautiful post about food! Because of our frequent and often impromptu guests at our dinner table, our house-wide policy is to cook more than our family will eat. It seemed wasteful to me at first (the scarcity and high value placed on any food from my own childhood talking), but now it seems selfish NOT to have "leftovers." Our dogs and cat eat well. Any sweets we have left over, our horses enjoy. We save bread scraps and feed the ducks that have made our small lake their home. The chickens and pet ducks are getting fat. The worm bin is thriving and turning our "waste" into amazingly nutritious soil... which goes into growing much of our own food, and over and over and over.

There is no such thing as wasted food!

Rachele said...

I don't know. I respect your opinion on this, and I also try to find alternative solutions when someone "wastes" food. But it gets to me. We're on a maddeningly tight budget. Every resource has to be budgeted carefully, including the food. If one of the kids doesn't like dinner, I don't have a problem with that, but I can't give them a PBJ because I know that I can make exactly X number of sandwiches the rest of the week, and once our food is gone we are all SOL. Are there any problems that you feel are bigger than an RU philosophy and approach can handle?