One of the biggest obstacles facing us is that our culture, as a society, is driven by consumption. This is why we are running out of natural resources. This is why we are damaging our ecosystem. This is why we are in trouble, and this is why we cannot fathom a way out of it.
We judge people’s success on their consumption level. The more people can consume the more successful they are. One person has a small apartment and occasionally skips meals due to a lack of funds, but he has a wonderful relationship with his family. He has friends that would do anything for him, and he for them, and he has a healthy relationship with a girl three blocks over. This person is considered to be less successful than a loner who is estranged from his family, but has five cars and two houses.
This is a big problem. And there are numerous examples of this from all different kinds of places and people. But there is a small example of our consumption-base life style that probably best emphasises the situation: the garnish.
What could more thoroughly demonstrate our consumption driven life-style than serving food that is not meant to be eaten. The fancier the restaurant the more garnish and the more expensive the garnish. Inexpensive and family restaurants generally do not serve garnish at all. And certainly the idea of a garnish at a fast-food restaurant is amusing. Expensive restaurants, or restaurants that want to seem expensive, often provide an extra piece of lettuce with dinner. And restaurants that cater to the ‘prosperous’ often add specially cut fruit and vegetables to that otherwise lone piece of lettuce.
In Western Civilization this tendency is common. Many restaurants serve their patrons food that they are not expected to eat, and usually do not. And when these little bits of odds and ends of lettuce, and oranges, and lemons, and radishes are all added together, entire villages in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia could be fed.
Its such a small element of our waste. Why should we care? We should care because it is such a small part of our waste. When such a small part amounts to so much, how can we not address something so small? And, by the same token, how can we then not address our larger excesses.
Its a small thing. We are often served food we are never meant to eat. Next time, do what I do: eat it.