Ever since I was young, I was taught to never waste food.  That lesson has been engraved into my being since then.  When you have food that’s still good to eat, you either eat it or give it to someone who can or will eat it.  You don’t throw it out; that’s a waste.

So imagine how I felt when I found three unopened cans of chow mein sitting next to the trash compactor at the apartments.

Where I live, if you want to get rid of something, but want others to have a chance to claim them, you leave them next to the trash compactor.  There, you have a limited amount of time to browse and take what you want before they get tossed by the garbage collectors.  I managed to get a few good pieces of furniture that way.

However, no one had ever left food out before.

If it was any other kind of food, I would not have picked it up, but these were unopened cans.  I checked the expiration dates and saw that they were still good, so why throw them out?  I took them home with me and debated on what to do.  Because of my diet, I could not eat them, even though it would last me for several days.  I did some looking around and decided that the best thing to do would be to donate them.

I found a food collection center and donated the three cans there.  I felt better knowing that the food would not be wasted and that a family in need would have something to eat.

The thing with me is this:  even if the food is unhealthy, if it’s still good, I refuse to throw it out.  I mean, I bought sweetened almond milk by accident instead of the normal unsweetened one.  It’s 60 extra calories per serving + cane sugar; I refuse to throw it out and food collection centers only take packaged or canned food.  The sugar won’t do me any good, but I would rather drink it than throw it out, because I spent money on it, and throwing something out that I bought and is still good would be a waste.

Another case would be the desserts that clients would give to the staff at work.  Even if no one’s eating them, as long as  there isn’t mold growing on them, I wouldn’t throw them out.  My coworkers know this, so when no one has eaten any given items for several days, they would have to do the actual act of throwing them out.

Food isn’t something you can just throw out.  If you can’t eat it, donate it to your local food collection center so another person can eat it.  If you can’t donate it there, find someone close who can take them.  If you can’t do that…well, there’s the dilemma I sometimes face.

“Don’t waste food.”  That simple, yet meaningful phrase is a part of me that will stick with me forever.

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