Interview: The liberating act of throwing away food

Like a kid who spits peas into a napkin or feeds them to a convenient under-the-table dog, my brother Brent has a system for getting rid of food he doesn’t want to deal with.

My brother Brent and his wife Darcy

Except in his case, the undesirable food usually isn’t something he despises but likes way too much to trust himself to stay out of it.

So he throws it away. (Well, technically he throws it into a field, but you get the idea.)

How does he do that? How does he get past the guilt that always trips me up when it comes to wasting food? What about all the starving kids overseas?

Note to my mom: The statute of limitations surely applies in this case, as most of these acts were committed during Brent’s bachelor days.

Q. So when did you first start throwing away food?

A. “Probably around the time I bought my first house. Maybe 10 years ago or so, when  I started struggling a little bit more with the belt loop — when my pants started to get tight. Once I got my first house, I didn’t buy food that would tempt me: Chips, candy, cookies, cakes, pies — none of that.

“Then I’d go over to Mom and Dad’s on Sunday, be around all this good food, lose all self control and eat all this stuff, and I would always leave there feeling miserable. I’d eat more than I should to begin with, and then Mom would send food home with me.”

Some of which, it turns out, wound up getting tossed in the field — long before it would’ve gone bad in the fridge.

Was it hard to do that?

“No. It was easy, because it was the root cause of why I was feeling miserable. It was almost like, ‘This food is evil.’ I mean, I should blame myself for eating too much of it. But it’s easier to blame the food. It made me feel better because it wasn’t around. I knew I wouldn’t feel tempted by it.”

So you’re basically immune to that “but what about the children starving overseas” guilt trip?

“I do think about that, but I look at it realistically: This food I’m throwing out would never make it to those kids in Africa. Trust me, if there was some way I could get this to some starving kid in Africa, or even here in the United States, I would.”

Do you ever eat leftovers?

“Yeah. A lot of times when I grill I make extra so I can take it for lunch the next day. So I don’t have a problem with leftovers. Just stuff that’s too tempting, that makes me feel miserable. I look at something like that and think, ‘This would look very nice out in the field.'”

Do you ever take a box home from a restaurant, or do you just not bother?

“It depends on what it is. If it’s healthy, steak or chicken or something, yeah. If it’s potatoes, fettuccini, pasta, then no.”

Q. Tell me about this “miserable feeling” you associate with overeating. I’m still trying to cultivate a greater awareness of that.

A. “It doesn’t take long. One big meal, and you bend over to take your shoes off, it hurts to bend over. Getting up off the couch takes more of an effort …

“The worst part is, you can be good all week, even for a couple of weeks, drop a couple of pounds, and all it takes is one big meal and you’re right back where you started.”

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2 Responses to Interview: The liberating act of throwing away food

  1. Skip says:

    I’ve thrown food away, too, and it always makes me happy to have done (mixed with a little guilt). My sweet wife likes to say, “I’m a grown up person, and I can get more.” I like that. It helps deflate the need to eat something because I have it and it’s good.

    • tischcaylor says:

      In an ideal world no food would be wasted. And I can’t really bring myself to do this most of the time, though I remember one time in particular it did feel extremely liberating.

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