Wasting food?

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Wasting food?

Post by identification » Fri Feb 13, 2015 1:12 am

Is it bad kamma with bad kamma vipaka? And is it really possible to waste anything? If I put it outside it goes to the animals and bugs. And what if i specifically feed my leftover food directly to animals. Still bad?

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Sam Vara
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Re: Wasting food?

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Feb 13, 2015 6:07 am

"I tell you, Vaccha, even if a person throws the rinsings of a bowl or a cup into a village pool or pond, thinking, 'May whatever animals live here feed on this,' that would be a source of merit, to say nothing of what is given to human beings. But I do say that what is given to a virtuous person is of great fruit, and not so much what is given to an unvirtuous person."

— AN 3.57
I think it depends on what one means by "waste". In one sense, no matter is "wasted" because it is merely transformed and becomes something else. By "waste" we only mean that it doesn't meet some artificially constructed criterion for what should happen to it.

But in a sense that is far more important for practice, intention is the important factor here. Feeding bacteria is wasteful if you could have fed a monk or another virtuous person. Feeding any hungry animal rather than any human being is wasteful. I think the best course of action is to prepare only what we need for ourselves and for giving to others, being mindful that lots of beings worked hard and died to provide us with it. Then, if there is any surplus, to dispose of it thoughtfully and as beneficially as possible.

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Re: Wasting food?

Post by Coyote » Fri Feb 13, 2015 9:53 pm

I don't think it is necessarily bad kamma. As Sam mentions, intention is the key here. Is there waste out of selfishness or is there generosity where possible? The quote in my signature provides an ideal that I find beneficial to remember in such situations.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Wasting food?

Post by DNS » Sun Feb 15, 2015 11:09 pm

identification wrote:Is it bad kamma with bad kamma vipaka? And is it really possible to waste anything? If I put it outside it goes to the animals and bugs. And what if i specifically feed my leftover food directly to animals. Still bad?
As you say, it is not really wasted since normally animals get to eat the leftovers. I agree with posts above, it is more about intention.

Here in Las Vegas at some of the casino buffets, there is a terrible amount of waste. Some customers leave half their plate to go to the trash. The casinos grind all the leftover food up and send it to feedlot farms. This cannot be too good for the animals as there are all kinds of sugary foods mixed with meat from every animal, so there is bound to be some cannibalism for the farm animals too. Producing food for the human palette involves a considerable carbon footprint with the factory farming, transportation, etc. So I think it is mostly wasted when you consider the amount of energy to produce the food, if the humans do not finish their food regularly.

I don't think the Suttas discuss this directly however, many Buddhists are concerned for the environment due to general teachings against harming animals, needlessly harming plants and trees, and compassion teachings.

I grew up in a household that taught the importance of not wasting food (for environment and economics) and later I went on a Zen retreat where we were taught to finish everything on the plate and when we got down to the last crumbs, to pour our tea on the plate and literally clean it up with utensils and bread so that the plate appears completely clean with not a crumb left. At first I thought that was fanatical, but later liked that mindfulness practice.

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Re: Wasting food?

Post by SarathW » Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:24 am

:goodpost: David

We are living in a throwaway society.
We wast too much food. (and other things)
We break quite perfect kitchens and build new ones. (because it is out of fashion )
We discard quite perfect cloths.
I try to not waste food : Freeze left over rice and make fried rice. Share excess food with friends and work mates.
If I have excess food in a restaurant I ask them to give me a "Doggy bag" and bring them home and consume later.
Donate old cloths to charity etc.
The money I saved given to my favourite charities.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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