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  • ginger3100

    Josh: Sounds like a great idea and I'm willing to help! I do feel, however, that too many people today have become desensitized to the suffering of others. I talk with people every day...hoping to bring even a glimpse of why people are homeless/poor, rather than the lies they hear on FOX News that classifies the homeless as just Lazy--no consideration that the majority of them are unemployed, have lost their homes to foreclosure, have no-one to turn to, are mentally ill, depressed, discouraged, etc, etc, etc. with a small percentage who are alcoholi/drug addicts (also a sickness). The bottom line is that the difference between animals and humans is that humans (and even some animals) understand that we all have a responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves.

  • screwdestiny

    My parents never made me "clean my plate." I plated the food that I wanted, and if I got full before finishing it all, I simply put it into the leftovers (which almost always got eaten), not the trash. Doing this kept food from being wasted, but it also taught me at a very young age to listen to my body and recognize when I didn't need to eat anymore. As a result, I've always been a healthy weight and have never had issues with overeating. We definitely shouldn't be throwing food away when a child is unable to clean their plate, but what's wrong with simply saving it for the next day?

    • Josh Treuhaft

      Nothing wrong with saving it for the next day. I think that's a great idea.

  • Susanna Milne

    It's easy to say that making children eat what's on their plate is harmful for the future when you have no actual contact or responsibility for children on a daily basis. A child could easily say "I'm full" to a well-balanced meal of rice, chicken, and broccoli and turn around and eat an entire bag of goldfish crackers or box of cookies.

    The "clean-plate club" is super important in fighting childhood obesity. It teaches children the important of eating a well-balanced meal, rather than eating constant unhealthy snacks. Of course a child will turn down carrots and quinoa when they know they can eat something with more sugar and fat and salt in the near future.

    I've always thought that when I have children, I want to take them to an organic farm and show them where their food comes from. Then maybe a chicken nugget factory so that they can understand the difference for themselves.

    • Josh Treuhaft

      I love the idea of taking kids to farms and to industrial food processing facilities. Movies and books are great, but there's no substitute for the real thing. The key is just getting educated about the topic, since, at the end of the day, it's one of the most essential things we do in life...eating.

  • km556677

    Sometimes even as an adult I don't know exactly how much I will want to eat when I start. I say always save what is left on your plate, and eat it later, but NEVER give kids or others the habit of eating more when they are full. I often leave a few bites on my plate, and put them in with the other leftovers - I swear its the key to being as thin and fit as I am.

  • shari.windsofchange

    I agree with "take only what you can eat". As a child who was forced to eat stuff I didn't like and consequently, as an adult, hate most vegetables, CPC seems to have been subverted.
    On a bit of a tangent: I hate the wastefulness of eating contests.They are totally irrational in light of world hunger. I refuse to buy products from companies that sponsor this type of competition. It doesn't affect them, I know, but it makes me feel better.

    • screwdestiny

      Yeah, eating contests are about as revolting as water parks. They both take a resource which first-world countries take for granted and one which millions of people regularly go without, and use it for entertainment. Totally disgusting.

  • Yayne Hailu

    There are definitely a few good points that you highlight about America's food issues, Josh : scarcity (of good, healthy, food for certain populations these days), obesity, waste, lack of awareness of whats actually in our food…but I think the most important one you mention is our relationship with food. And this is a cultural problem, one that we pass down to our kids. In my opinion, we, Americans have a guilty abusive relationship with food. We binge, we starve, we over produce and over consume. We abuse and waste and we make so much money off of our food. Right now there are a lot of organic and healthy food movements and although it sounds great, I think a lot of it is just a part of a trend or fad. And, really, not everyone can afford it. Its a complicated issue and I don't really have a solution to offer but I think you are on the right track. It would be interesting to focus more on how to change our relationship with food starting with our portion sizes so that we aren't over consuming or throwing away perfectly good food.

    • Josh Treuhaft

      Great points, Yayne. I agree that it's a complicated issue. And while I agree that portion sizes are one piece, you're right, that the relationship with food is also in need of fixing. There was a time when we smelled the milk or even tried a little sip before deciding to pitch it. Same went for leftovers and the like. At some point though, it was easier (and seemingly socially acceptable) just to to toss it out. Would be interesting to know what led to that attitude. I think part of it stems from issues / concerns around food safety (i.e., we think food that's getting old is dangerous, which typically it isn't). But maybe there's also something about the price of food being artificially low and thus changing our value of it.

      Anyhow, more questions than answers here, but great points you raise.

  • Amy Leibrock

    Great post, Josh. I didn't even realize the Clean Plate Club was an actual campaign. I love the idea of adapting this message to teach kids to not waste or compost instead.

    • Josh Treuhaft

      Thanks Amy. I didn't realize it either until I started doing the research. Pretty interesting how much has changed since it was originally launched.

      And I'm a huge advocate for composting, doing a lot of work in this area here in NYC. I will admit though, composting is fairly low on the hierarchy. It's far better than sending food to the landfill, but we should be eating or donating food before figuring out how to dispose of it. I'd like to see more people questioning the integrity of "sell-by" dates and willingly eating the food that's been in the fridge a couple days and is still totally edible. A couple nights ago, we had some spinach in the fridge that was starting to get a little soggy and we made spinach apple banana smoothies and they were awesome. Yes, we could have composted the spinach...but then we would have missed out on the smoothies.

  • weisscw

    ........Ya eating too many starches!!!!!!!!!.........

    Great article Josh! Keep up the good work!

  • collawn

    Fact is that food should be served in serving platters, for each person to serve themself the amount they calculate they want to eat. No one else knows how much you feel like eating of a particular food on a particular day or just how hungry you are. This includes children, as parents do have a tendency to overserve them.
    Todays society, having done away with the traditional serving dishes on the dinner table to cut down on dish use, has taken to either serving dishes for others off the stove or people serve themselves too much so they don't have to get up again for seconds.

  • BlueCollarCritic

    Noble intentions however the problem isn't simply that kids and Adults eat too much but that they eat too much junk food including the kind disguised as healthy or non-junk food.

    Thanks to abusive actions against the soil by corporate farming and harm done to the environment by illegal and unethical chemical dumping (also by corporations) the soil has been depleted of its nutrients and this has been passed onto the foods grown in these soils. Just 2 generations back when most of the food grown in America was done by small and or independent farms (back before government got involved in regulation and price fixing) the average American was able to eat less and get more from that because the solis were rich. The small farmer and independent (or family owned) farms regularly rotated use of the soils. More importantly is the fact that they weren’t using that crap from Monsanto which in the long run has caused more harm than any good (assuming Monsanto had good intentions which is debatable) that was marketed to the public.

    Kids are obese and unhealthy because they are being raised on fast food crap like McDonalds. However the problem does not end with the fast food chains. The food we buy from grocery stores (and other food sellers) are often grown in depleted soils and so the same portion of food today has far less nutrients then say 50 years ago. This means your body has to consume more in volume to get the level of nutrients it needs. If you think this is wild conspiracy theory then just look at areas of the world where the modern Americanized Corporate controlled farming practice has yet to take over. The Amish are an excellent example because they have been steadfast about keeping out the corporate way of life from farming to politics.

    Generally speaking the Amish who live an agrarian lifestyle and who abstain from modern day practices like vaccinations have a far better health record than any other group in the world. There are some Amish communities where a portion have been vaccinated but in general there are few vaccinations among Amish communities. Within an Amish community of 25,000 in Indiana a study was done and it showed that the rate of allergic sensitization was less then %8, a number far lower than the rest of the world. The Amish also have a near %0 rate of autism because the number of Amish born persons with autism is in the single digits and that’s among all the Amish communities. Within the Indiana Amish community only 1 child had autism and it just happened that the child was one of the few who had been vaccinated. While correlation does not always equal causation there is a point where you have to ask yourself just how many correlations do we accept before we start asking ourselves if it really is just an unusually large number of correlations? I can say that all humans breathe and all humans die and so the correlation is that if you breather you will die but that sounds absurd and it for good reason. The reverse is also true. There are just so many correlations that can occur naturally before it becomes blatantly obvious that it’s not just a correlation.

    The Amish also drink raw milk which is non-pasteurized. That means their milk is not nuked/radiated before they consume it. This means the milk they use has to be as clean as possible. In modern day dairy farms the milk often has blood and other little goodies in it that the FDA allows because the milk is radiated via the pasteurization and so any supposedly bad things in the milk are killed before it is sent to the stores for consumption. This also cooks out much of the good in milk. It’s interesting to note that more than a few states have treated raw milk like a drug or alcohol making it illegal to carry across state borders. In some states/cities you can’t sale raw milk to the public, you have to have a private group or club with registered members. Within one Amish community

    It’s an outrage that in America you can be raided by SWAT team members with their weapons drawn just for having raw milk and raw milk products like cheese. There is a well-known video of a store in California (Rawesome foods) that was raided by weapons drawn law enforcement solely because the private members only club had Raw milk and raw milk products. There are many testimonies from families stating that when they put their child on a raw milk diet their health improved. Many of these law abiding citizens are seen as criminals by the state because they dare to defy the state and decide what food they can eat. It’s not like as if we are talking about the consumption of a drug, this is milk.

    I applaud your desire to want to make the world a better place but the solution is not less its more and that’s more freedom for the individual to choose what he/she grows, sells and most importantly consumes. So long as government dictates what we can grow, sale and consume we will continue to live in a quasi-prison where those in charge tell us what we can do, when we can do it and what punishment we get if we try to practice any of our constitutionally enumerated rights that the state does not have the authority to challenge but does.

  • marian55

    I agree, there is so much food wasted. The portions in a restaurant could break down into 3 meals! I would support a doggy bag movement, too, so the ridiculous amount of food we get at the restaurants isn't wasted. Bring it home, eat it yourself, or give it to a friend.

    • ginger3100

      Right on. Better yet, wouldn't it be great if restaurants served portions that allowed the customer to choose: small, medium, or large servings...and priced them accordingly!

      • Josh Treuhaft

        Great idea. I wonder why this approach isn't commonly used. Fast food restaurants, to a certain degree, offer this flexibility (even though the portions tend to skew to the large end of the spectrum).

    • Yayne Hailu

      I've worked in restaurants and the amount of food thrown away from people's plate would really irritate me. I would support a doggy bag movement too!

      In some countries like Ethiopia, restaurants and hotels give the left over food to the homeless, who knew to line up outside once the kitchen was closed. Not a bad idea either.

      • ginger3100

        It's time for the restaurants to get a conscience and provide their leftovers to the poor. Years ago, some of them did that, but felt it was too much trouble and discontinued this as it can be messy, but why not ask for volunteers who would gladly distribute the food and prevent the possible messes left behind. People are starving! How can we be so blind and so insensitive!

        • Josh Treuhaft

          Hopefully not blind and insensitive...just doing things the way that they've always been done. People are waking up and taking action. Sometimes you'd be surprised what a little legwork can do. Maybe we could get some of those volunteers to organize and actually make a system with a restaurant to do regular pickups. I'd love to see that. Would probably make a great article on GOOD.is

    • Gina Kim

      A doggy bag movement! Now there is an idea. It'd be cool if there was a visual indicator (like a placemat) that showed kids what real food portions should look like. Getting kids to get in a habit of taking out doggy bags to go could be the beginning of something.

      • Josh Treuhaft

        That sounds like there could be a fun game to be designed, hidden in there somewhere.

      • marian55

        I love it! Placemats with pictures of food portions so the kids don't get that clean plate guilt trip I had, and make the doggy bags for the leftovers a fun thing with kid graphics. I am on board, let's get this started!

  • Kristin Pedemonti

    I was a member of CPC too. :) Love what you've said. And agree we need to revamp it. I am astonished at 1) the ginormous portions now served in the US, which should definitely be cut down and 2) the incredible amount of waste created. I presented at a school last week in VA and I was saddened when we had a class buffet and so many of the kids took waaaay too much food and then threw it out without even a second thought. I couldn't NOT say anything, but when I did, the teacher said, "Oh that just what teenagers do, you should see what happens in our school cafeteria. Every day they HAVE to take all 4 parts of the school meal even if they KNOW they won't eat it! And then into the trash it goes!" What are we teaching our next generation if we Force them to put food on their plate that they know 100% they have no intention of eating? Better to allow them to choose what they Will eat rather than waste it. (just my thoughts) Josh, you provided some excellent Food for Thought! Thanks!

    • Josh Treuhaft

      Thanks for the kind words, Kristin. That's a crazy story about your experience in the school. Seems like there's some serious room for improvement there. I haven't done a lot of work / research in the school cafeteria, but I'm sure it ripe with opportunity.

  • Lara Soetekouw-Giometti

    Couldn't agree more Josh, love the idea of a "Clean Plate Club Culture".
    Do you know if there's a movement in the US to serve smaller portions? I'm based in London (UK) and didn't notice any changes recently when visiting the US: still can't finish my plate, as I was brought up to do, when eating out there!!

    • Josh Treuhaft

      Thanks for the support Lara. You raise a good point. I know a lot of people (food advocates, etc.) talk about portion size, but I'm not sure if there's a coalition or formal organization or movement around it. It's a good idea though. Or being able to "give half" to someone in needs...or just making it easier (and less socially stigmatized) to share meals. All things to look forward to.