Are we taught from an early age not to waste food? My husband was told clean his plate as a child because of the “starving Armenians”. My mother actually used to tell us: “It’s just as wasted if you don’t want it”. Isn’t it? But I do want it. Don’t I?
I remember when my fantabulous step-mother came aboard, the dinner menu changed, and for the better. Instead of the Budget Gourmet frozen dinners or all-you-can-eat yeast rolls at Quincy’s steak house that my previously single and culinarily challenged Dad treated me to, we were getting Chicken Divan and Pesto Linguine. These were new unfamiliar creations for me and they were De-lish!
I didn’t need to learn the catchy term my new little brothers and sister used: “make a Happy Plate!”. A “happy plate” was a clean, EMPTY plate. It was ‘happy” and I was happy to sop up every noodle and drop of that pesto! I’m sure my ‘other mother’ was happy to not have to clean 6 plates, instead, slipping the mess-free discs neatly in to the dishwasher.
But does the happy plate or being a member of the “clean plate club” really teach us to eat healthfully? We tell kids to finish that hot dog” [a meat tube made of pig parts] and that mac-n-cheese [synthetic fluorescent orange noodle dish] only then can you stuff a bowl of cold creamy sugar with candy bars smashed up in it in your mouth!
I now know the happiest plate is one filled with nutrient rich foods. Foods that support health, normalize mood swings, and fight disease. While I do like to discourage waste, perhaps we should also teach our kids to recognize when they are full and to save what they don’t want for later. After eating their fruits and vegetables first, of course!