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Feeling righteous indignation about eating competitions? Maybe you shouldn’t.

(I include myself too, because heaven knows I’m no stranger to righteous indignation!)

I’m getting a bit ahead here, though, and you’re probably wondering what in the world I’m talking about.

Every Fourth of July here in the USA, there’s a hot-dog-eating content held in New York and people manage to eat 60+ hot dogs in 10 minutes in order to win prizes (the 1st place is $10,000!)

Even if you like to eat hot dogs, the spectacle is sort of disgusting. Sixty hot dogs and buns is just crazy.

hot dog eating contest.

And if you’re passionate about things like world hunger or food waste, watching someone down dozens of hot dogs can make you feel a bit righteously indignant.

Why would you wastefully stuff yourself with unnecessary food when people around the planet are starving?

Isn’t this the opposite of compassion?

Pretty much every year, someone, somewhere has something disparaging to say about America’s values, based on the hot dog eating contest.

grilled hot dogs on a plate.

I’m not exempt from this…competitive eating is kind of gross to me. And watching competitive eating shows is sort of like watching trashy reality TV: the behavior is so unusual and beyond our comprehension, it makes us feel self-righteous and we look down on the people we’re watching.

But what I realized this year is that competitive eating is just as easy a target as reality TV stars. None of us are going to walk around orange-skinned, half-naked in spike heels and have knock-down, drag-out fights in public. And none of us are going to eat 60 hot dogs in a day.

So, it’s easy to look at that sort of thing and condemn it.

But in doing that, I think we give ourselves a free pass…when we’re busy condemning someone else, sometimes we forget to turn an eye on our own behavior.

Could the starving people of the world have used those hots dogs and buns? Certainly.

Do competitive eaters need the food they’re consuming? Nope.

But I don’t think those are the questions we ought to be asking ourselves. I think we should look a little closer to home.

How many of us have bought food we didn’t need?

How many of us regularly eat more food than we need?

How often do we buy food and let it rot?

Just how bad is our food waste problem?

The average American throws away 1.5 pounds of food every day.

And we waste 25% of the food we bring into our homes.

I don’t know many pounds of food are consumed by competitive eaters in a year, but it surely must be negligible when compared to the amount American households waste on a regular basis.

That’s sobering, isn’t it?

But sobering is good, because if we realize our behavior is more reprehensible than that of competitive eaters, we might be inspired to do something about it.

Instead of wasting energy fretting about competitive eating, which we can do little about, let’s pour that energy into being more responsible food consumers ourselves.

Need some help getting started?

These are my top ten ways to stop wasting food.

Also, here’s how I manage to keep my food waste low while still buying plenty of produce.

What do you think? I’m so curious to hear your thoughts on this topic!Save

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Elaine in Ark

Thursday 12th of July 2012

Eating competitions disgust me. I think if more people who are disgusted by this kind of thing spoke out, there might be less of this glorified gluttony. There is also the fact that silence implies consent, and consent encourages more of the same behavior.

I also think it's important for all of us to look at our own bad habits and work on changing them. That's positive action that we can take, and feel good about.


Thursday 12th of July 2012

What would speaking out against a hobby do? Do you think those people are really glorified in any real sense of the word? Their bodies are theirs to do with as they choose, you don't have to approve, obviously, but what will censure really do in terms of any real world effect to anyone beyond that person, who probably doesn't care what people not in the competitive food world thinks?


Thursday 12th of July 2012

I'm finding it hard to afford food at the moment so as you can imagine I find this kinda thing appalling. I am so sick of walking past KFC,Macdonalds etc and seeing the amount of food wasted. People if you are not that hungry dont buy so much or buy at all. Last night at my book club I saw someone spend the equivalent of my currently weekly shopping budget on a plate with three teeny pots of varieties of houmous, toasted pitta triangles and a few leaves and leave half the pittas, the leaves and 2 of the types of houmous.. meanwhile I was sitting there hungry and embarrassed cos the group had remarked I didnt buy myself a drink.


Thursday 12th of July 2012

Well, I must say that just thinking about eating competitions and over-eating in general makes my stomach hurt. Not that I never do it, mind you - I think I went a muffin too far just today!

But I mainly want to applaud you for calling us all on the carpet about our self-righteous indignation - it's our national sport as far as I can tell, and I'm just as guilty as the next person. But you are so right, people in glass houses should not throw stones or else you end up where we so often are in this country - walking around on shards of glass! And I'm righteously indignant about it! Oy.


Thursday 12th of July 2012

Very important point raised by you Kristen! I think this craziness also has got to do with the term 'being a foodie'. Usually, when someone says 'I am a foodie, and I love food', it means 'I love food and I stuff myself with it till I am completely out of breath!'. So if someone says they love cakes they will stuff themselves up. So love for food is equated with 'quantity that you eat' and not how you savor even a small bite or small portion. Even I find such competitions so idiotic because it is humanly impossible to consume humongous amount of food, (and that too fast food). I had heard about a case of a college student who took part in a competition to drink aerated drinks and had to be hospitalized for drinking more than 2 litres of soda. It's crazy!


Wednesday 11th of July 2012

I totally agree. When I find myself in that judgemental frame of mind I try to remember the Ghandi quote "Be the change you want to see in this world".

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