Reduce food waste or face fine dine

Chinese restaurant takeway

Food waste is a crime! Well in southern China, that may soon be the case as the authorities propose to bring in a ruling that will see restaurateurs being heavily fined for allowing diners to over order and waste food.

According to an article by Leo Lewis in the Times this Friday, the Municipal Civilisation Office of Zhuhai city aims to tackle the problem of edible food waste by instructing local restaurants and it’s staff to regulate what food quantities diners order as well as ensuring diners take their leftovers home.

As ‘over-ordering’ is commonplace in China (traditionally having an abundance of food aims to impress the guest as well as showing the hospitality of the hosts) with enough food to feed 200 million people being wasted each year, food waste reduction initiatives like this and others, including the ‘Operation Empty Plate’ a campaign organized by the agricultural journalist Xu Zhijun, are just what is needed in modern day China.

But it’s not just a problem in China, as you will be well aware food waste is a worldwide issue and whilst authoritative intervention like that already described may seem like a step too far, how can we ensure as individuals that food waste in the UK is minimised?

Dining out

When dining out, try and have a realistic expectation of how much food you will actually want to eat. With nearly all restaurants offering at least 3 courses, it may seem the norm to order all three, but is your stomach used to that much food? I’m sure most of us don’t eat that many courses at home, more likely one dish or two, so to keep your portions and potential waste under control when dining out, why not opt for a starter and main course, or main payday loans faxless course and dessert, instead of all three? That way you can savour every last morsel and not stuff yourself to the point of discomfort or feel guilty about leaving any food untouched.

Should you not want to curb your dining experience by opting out on any course, why not enquire if you can have a smaller portion or alternatively choose a starter as a main course – many restaurants, if they value your custom, would be happy to oblige? However, should you still end up with leftovers, don’t forget to ask for a doggy bag, or doggy box, as many restaurants now have. These days there’s absolutely no shame in taking your leftovers home, in fact many chefs say they prefer diners to do so, especially considering how much time and effort that has gone in to making it.

Ordering in a takeaway

Similarly when ordering a takeaway – with a telephone directory style menu sprawled out in front of you, it can be so tempting to order a variety of dishes for one sitting. But really, does an over-laden plate of mismatched dishes really make your dining experience any better? Surely, when ordering a takeaway the better option would be to choose a smaller selection of dishes that’s flavours compliment each other, rather than compete for your attention.

To keep the portions right, why not do as the Chinese do, order dishes equivalent to the number of people in your party, plus one. However, a word of caution, in China they believe an ‘odd’ number of dishes symbolizes death (as an odd number of dishes is usually only ordered at a funeral meal), so when ordering a takeaway from your favourite Chinese Restaurant I’d suggest you order an even number of dishes – just to be on the safe side!

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