Eating your way into record books

  • There is a column called Milestones in the news magazine The Week, which informed us that a certain Spandan had eaten nine hotdogs in 10 minutes. The contest was organised by the All American Diner at India Habitat Centre in Delhi. Some milestone that!
  • Some days back there was a flier in the newspaper where a fast food chain invited people to try and eat six burgers in three minutes – free of cost.
  • The other day I was watching this idli-eating contest hosted by the popular Kannada actor Sihi Kahi Chandru on Suvarna TV. It was a live show where the number of idlis being consumed kept increasing as a new record emerged after every round. When I began watching, one had to eat 16 idlis in five minutes to create new record.  Hundreds of people cheered as five men stuffed their faces with idlis dunking them in sambar and washing them down with water. One man ate 19 and created a new record for that round. Now it was time for a fresh batch of guys who had to eat at least 20 to beat that one. By this time, I was so  grossed out that I changed the channel.

There is something about getting into the record books that make people try all kinds absurd feats. There are some monumentally weird ones like swallowing 200 earthworms in 30 seconds and watching TV for 72 hours straight and even squirting milk from the eyes  — that are official entries in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Silly as these may look, eating contests are worse. I find them actually obscene. Are we so far gone in gluttony that we have to eat mountainous quantities of food to create a record? What are we proving by this? That we have a bottomless pit for a stomach? That we have such great digestion that we can eat and survive 20 idlis in five minutes or 200 earthworms in 30 seconds? The Guinness Book also has records for eating stuff as varied and wide as hotdogs, marshmallows, oysters and even glass and metal. Some eating categories have been dropped for ‘ethical and safety’ reasons, which include stuff like bicycles and furniture. I find that most thoughtful on their part, don’t you?

If you have watched Man vs Food, on TLC, you will know what I am speaking about. If I happen to linger there even for a second longer than it takes to change the channel, I feel like puking out my roti and subzi, which I am most probably eating at that time.

You can watch some eating videos and decide if they are enjoyable or even worth the effort, just for the sake of creating a record. In order to do the feat, the contestants practice eating huge quantities for months before they attempt to beat the record — much like athletes going through their training before a meet! Just imagine the waste of food, the health risks involved and the long term effects on the system. I wonder if I would eat 7 hotdogs in 3 minutes to beat the existing record of 6, to get into the Guinness Book. I would rather do something more constructive even if I can’t create a record, wouldn’t you?

Why are we promoting gluttony in the name of records?  For that matter why are we promoting gluttony at all? I don’t remember such eating contests in India even a quarter century ago. Advertisers and marketers are directly responsible for turning us into gluttons.

They began by offering more and extra in every pack at no extra cost. It does make sense when the product is detergent or toothpaste, but with the cola drinks being served in bigger and bigger bottles, chips being sold in jumbo packs, and the 300-500ml of coffee and tea cups, the long slide towards gluttony began in good earnest. In addition, they peddle harmful cola as a lifestyle drink, sometimes even using it for social advertising like the Coke ad.  They tell us our ‘Dil maange more,’ and quickly increase the size of their cola bottles and make it cheaper to buy the largest one. And since these have limited shelf life before their quality deteriorates, they need to be finished fast, and thereby hangs the tale of gluttony. We have restaurants offering all-you-can-eat meals and buffets that stoke the greediness to eat as much as possible to get full value for money.

I remember the 250 ml bottle of  Mangola, which was shared between five friends in the college canteen (if we managed to put together the money between us, that is!). Today, the larger the PET bottle of Pepsi or Coke, the cheaper it is, making it the preferred drink of even the poor. After all, if they can’t buy milk, they can always buy Coke or Pepsi. Employers find it easier to gift their workers with these huge bottles, without a thought about the harm they are doing. I remember my maid struggling to carry home half a dozen 2 lts cola bottles during Diwali. I wonder if she thought I was a cheapskate for giving her a box of mithai and some fruits.

Back in our days, food was served by our mothers or other elders while we ate our fill. It was very satisfying to be so fed and even when we all ate together with the food in the centre and everyone sitting in a circle on the floor, it was mother who served everyone with one hand as she ate with us. Today, in most houses the food is served by the eaters themselves, except maybe in the case of the very young and the very old, thus resulting in faulty eating habits of both under and overeating.

However, the practice of serving food had its downside too, especially during weddings and feasts in those days. The food was often served in disproportionate quantities resulting in huge wastage by the well-fed guests who couldn’t/wouldn’t eat it all. The wasted food then was thrown in the garbage and picked up from there by the hungry and homeless, along with the dogs and pigs. The shocking and inhuman spectacle has made me turn away from many a banquet without touching a morsel and with the heaviest of hearts. When the buffet system was adopted by wedding hosts, I was happy, till I saw that gluttony had been added to the crime of wasting food. With a variety of foods to pick and choose from, the greed increased. Wastage still occurred because greed doesn’t have any limits. And binge eating – any wedding feast can safely be called that – is more harmful when indulged in frequently, as happens during the ‘wedding seasons.’

There is this show called Band Baja Buffet which I happened to watch one evening. There was a spread of more than 100 dishes in one meal at the wedding! I thought it was a record in obscene ostentation and monumental waste. All to pander to the well-to-do guests who might well be struggling with various diseases, some directly connected to eating heavy food.

Is this the price of development and upward mobility? A price that makes us behave like wild beasts  as we try to demolish obscene quantities of food in the shortest time. Whatever happened to genteel eating, savouring each morsel and thanking the Lord for the food on the table? Do we spare a thought to the hungry millions who would be happy to get the 6 hotdogs and share it – creating a record maybe, of the largest number of people eating ONE hotdog?

If this is what affluence is reducing us to, then maybe we are better off being poor. In a country where millions are living below the poverty line, it is a cruel joke on them to even show such programmes on TV, leave alone call forward contestants who can eat the largest number of burgers/idli/hotdogs in the shortest time. It is insensitive on one level and promotes gluttony on the other.  But what can we expect with a government that says that inflation is good for the farmers and is also going to give away mobile phones to the BPL families – maybe so they could keep abreast of such ‘records’ and salivate at the thought of all that food, which is the closest they might get to it.

 

Pic on Homepage Courtesy:  theaustralian.com.au

 

80 comments

  1. Despite being a great foodie, I completely detest the idea of these eating competitions. I enjoy evry bite and every spoon of what I eat, but in those so called competitions people mericlessly rip apart the food and gobble it down, which is so disgusting. Often I’ve seen people load their plates with every dish in the wedding banquet and they do not think twice before discading the plate with all those food. I would wonder why it is so hard for them to pick and choose what they would probably be capable of eating , instead of blindly loading their plates. There are many agencies which would take up the leftover food, which is not consumed by anyone and which is not spoilt, and give it to the homes of the abandoned. I am not suggesting we all sacrifice our food for them, all I would say is we need not waste food , specially when we know we wouldn,t be able to eat them and at least allow someone else to enjoy that one morsel.

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    1. You know, sometimes I feel like telling them to stop acting as if it was the last meal and go easy on the stuff! you are so right. Why are we so blind to the needs of others who could have a wonderful meal of leftovers? Instead, people take them on their plates and then waste the food. If this spectacle itself is disgusting, what can one say about eating contests? incidentally, foodie does not mean a glutton :D

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  2. All these displays of excess make me want to throw up, Zephyr. I guess it’s a sign that we’ve ‘arrived’. Remember the days we were not allowed to leave a morsel of food on our plates and were always reminded about starving children? Somewhere we’ve lost our sense of what’s right and wrong, I believe.

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    1. We have arrived indeed! But where were we going in the first place? Blindly aping anything that is supposed to be fashionable and trendy no matter how silly or insensitive it makes us look. This is also part of the things that contribute to the great divide in our society.

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  3. Very thoughtful post, Zephyr, as always. I agree with you on that eat-all-you-want buffets and the-larger-the-cheaper-bottles of softdrinks do promote gluttony. I have, in the past, felt guilty for having ‘wasted’ money on a buffet to eat only a little. Today, I understand the importance of eating to live and eating just enough to sate your hunger.

    This post reminded me of the tomato-throwing festival of Spain. There was talk of holding that event even in India, wasn’t there? In India, where so many people go to bed without food in their stomachs, holding such festivals does seem like a joke against them.

    That said, we cannot refute their right to hold and participate in such festivals. They have the money to do it, they do it. We all have our excesses, don’t we? We sometimes take a cab or an auto to go somewhere, for our comfort, while others might not have that option. Frankly, for everyone, it might not be possible to walk to office every day. We take hour-long hot showers while so many villagers do not have water to drink. We have UPS systems installed in our houses so that we don’t suffer the heat, while so many villages do not have electricity at all. We wear silk sarees and dresses while so many in India find it difficult to keep themselves clothed.

    I am not arguing that these eat-fests are good – just thinking out loud.

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    1. The tomato festival was held in Bangalore apparently. And your examples of our excesses are not that at all. How can wanton stuffing of food and wasting food be the same as using UPS or taking the cab? If we waste water in that hour long hot shower, that is wrong. I make my maid not waste water, I don’t waste food, and on, I gave up silk saris a quarter century ago. Gave away even my wedding saris to poor girls, though that is besides the point. We need not empathise with the poor by becoming spartan ourselves, but surely can avoid waste and excess? If only everyone like you could remember the adage of eating to live and not vice versa, the world will be a better place :)

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  4. I eat at a leisurely pace, no matter where I am. I quite enjoy chewing my morsels, relishing the taste and swallowing them peacefully. Unless I am in a total rush …that is the ONLY time I speed up a bit.

    So for the life of me I cannot imagine why someone would want to stuff down idli after idli just for the sheer joy of breaking numbers. Honestly.

    Did i tell you I am going to adopt you as granny for my kids? Teach them all about bad habits of junk food ok? :D

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    1. That is the way to eat. Chew each mouthful 56 times to be precise and then swallow it. That way we eat less and the food gets digested too. Imagine eating a huge meal chewing like that! I began eating fast only after I had my first son. He used to time his big jobs with my meal times and it was a race to beat him to it :D

      Thank you Ashwathy for your love and confidence in my grandparenting skills :) And I love this undakanni profile. Good to see it back!!

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  5. Thankfully I have never seen anyone at these contests. They seem to attract the baser instincts of people watching these shows. Like contestants squirming in reptiles and in worms. And people like Poonam Pandey have proved anyway that people can do anything to get famous! What I find in bad taste, are these big fat Indian weddings that seriously waste so much food. It is almost fashionable to have Mexican, Lebanese, Italian, Chinese, and American cuisines added to the mandatory Indian cuisine in every buffet ‘worth its salt’.

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    1. Well said. It is indeed pandering to the baser instincts of people. The big fat Indian weddings are fodder for another post :) The stalls set up are like a fair ground with all those food stalls. And if you see some of the guests eating, you’d think they were starving for days :P It is common to mention the cost of the catering in several lakhs. What a waste!

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  6. Luckily I don’t watch TV. For I am saved from the grace of watching these delightful programs. I remember an eating contest from school. A classmate of mine won the 1st place in eating bananas. He is an all India IAS topper 4 yrs back..:) I also remember he didn’t attend school for the next couple of days with a stomach upset. Until I read your post I didn’t know that people who participate would be trained on eating those humongous portions. God, a record and what does it do to one’s health? Insane! Yuck..people eating earthworms for a contest? ughh….we all stopped for lunch at an Indian restaurant today while returning from camping. They opened it yesterday and they had a special price for the buffet. All the while, I was thinking about your post. :) How people stuff their plates and throw away half the stuff!poohh…
    I think I already mentioned earlier for one of your posts. When we were growing up, we were never allowed to leave food in the lunch boxes. In case we did, we were made to eat it after coming home. I do the same to my son too. So, as soon as he gets in the car he starts eating his leftover for he knows he doesn’t get his evening snack or dinner.

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    1. I didn’t know that these ‘eaters’ were trained till I did some reading about them. Isn’t it disgusting? And like Farida has pointed out, Indians feature in the Guinness records for standing still and growing nails et al. What is it about people that they can’t stop at a decent limit when it comes to eating? I feel embarrassed in the extreme to take even a moderate amount of food at these buffets. Have you see people jostle and jump queues? I hate even standing in queues — to eat! :P

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  7. Thought-provoking post, Zephyr! Good question- “Why are we promoting gluttony in the name of records? For that matter why are we promoting gluttony at all?”

    As you and some commenters have suggested, product promotion campaigns play a large part. As long as their sales increase, marketers don’t care what happens to our health!

    I read somewhere that we should never eat so fast that we don’t realize when we’ve had enough. We’re less likely to over-eat when we eat slowly. Seems logical.

    BTW, Congratulations on being featured on the Blogadda Spicy Saturday Picks!

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    1. The thing is, Manju, we are bored of the glut of things in our lives and keep looking for ways to make it more ‘interesting’ — the sillier and the more mindless, the better. Gluttony and the food shows are part of this quest. Leave alone marketers, we ourselves don’t care about what happens to our health. Thank you for the wishes, actually, I should thank Shilpa Garg for recommending it :)

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  8. organizers of such contests (in India) can feed those who don’t have it in abundance once in a while. but would they even think of doing it?

    i found some of the food shows obscene myself especially when i watched them while munching goodday biscuits :)

    i liked a program called ‘lift kara de’ in sony (not related to food directly). although it was just helping one person at a time but the message was really nice where they asked people to spread the initiative (which no one did).

    anyway, i am going to read some of your old posts now

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    1. I don’t think anyone in their sane minds would enjoy such shows even on an empty stomach and leave alone munching Goodday biscuits! I don;t know which programme you are referring to. Is is something that helps the poor or something that helps the poor showcase their talents?

      And thank you for reading my older posts. Did you? :D

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  9. inducares · · Reply

    Zephyr you have taken up very important topics in this post-gluttony,lifestyle diseases,ostentation & the rich poor divide.I don’t know how people can overeat even if it is free-the feeling after stuffing the stomach is not at all pleasant.I once got into a competition with a friend for eating ice cream.I ate more than my comfort level.I don’t remember who won,but all that i remember is that i became a nervous wreck after that,imagining all sorts of horrors to befall me,although nothing of the sort happened.I think any dish tastes nice only if we are hungry.
    I wonder what happens to those who win these eating,no—stuffing—-competitions!

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    1. LoL I could just imagine you trying to eat that ice cream. I am sure the contestants feel nauseous when they eat such huge quantities and suffer the after effects of over eating and faulty eating, but they must be drunk with their achievement and the headiness of being in the record books.It is not just the rich-poor divide, but also the growing insensitivity of the haves as they go whole hog into their lifestyle capers.

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  10. My dad gave me a gift of Guinness book of world records when I was in 7th Standard. I was surprised that Indians had got there just by being lazy, not cutting nails, hairs, standing still etc LOL

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    1. Trust the ‘jugadu’ Indians to be good at things that require no effort on their parts. We are a nation of insensitive people, Farida, sadly….

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  11. An age of contrasts – while some of us starve themselves to fit into that dress, others have no control over what they eat. Moderation is the key. Not everyone can exercise it.

    All I know is, I eat healthier than my Mom and on weekdays, the food is laid out in the kitchen for the family to decide what they want to eat.

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    1. …and while some don’t even have the option of eating at all :( It is good that many of the present generation is aware of the bad effects of unhealthy eating and jumk food.

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  12. I have seen Man vs. Food on TLC. Even the all you can eat buffets and McD’s supersized offerings are all slowly moving us towards a culture of mindless eating and obesity. I totally agree with your analysis that such shows and contests are inconsiderate and ridiculous in a country like ours.

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    1. I am sure that those who are getting into such competitions and those who are organising them must not be even thinking about the poor who have no food. It is an insular world they live in and the poor cleaner and waiter in the periphery don’t even exist for them. Obesity is the next time bomb that is going to explode in our face within the next generation and it is not just because of the large portions served but also because of the ingredients that go into them.

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  13. [...] Zephyr What:Eating your way into record books Spicy: Will you gobble up 20 idlis in five minutes or devour 200 earthworms in 30 seconds to get [...]

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  14. Its really disgusting ! what all do we do in the name of record …I am very particular about not wasting any food and I am happy to say that even my 3 yr ols daughter respects food . One day after an office pizza party one of my friend collected the leftover pizza (almost 2 large ones) and made sure she handed it over to someone at the traffic signal. While some made fun of her , I really respect her for that !

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    1. What your friend did was commendable. But that would have been possible only because the pieces were untouched. What about the ones that are nibbled and left on the plate? Such waste is humongous and when it goes into the garbage can, not even animals get them. But when they find their way into dumps, sometimes the homeless and the starving scrounge for them. It is best to teach children early that wasting food is not nice or even good manners.

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  15. Everything is upsize these days. It scares the hell out off me. I can’t even finish a normal small can of coke and these food outlets and cinemas hand out huge glasses of it! It is totally crazy.

    I am thinking of a certain Gol Gappa eating competition in a SRK movie that almost made me puke. And I think I watched a guy eat a gigantic bowl of ice cream one day all in the name of a record. Crazy doesn’t even begin to describe this!

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    1. when I see those huge portions being consumed by the record makers, I automatically calculate how many mouths it can feed and then I begin getting madder by the second. What is the point in making yourself ill by overeating and keeping another ill by starvation? I avoid those large drinks because I find wasting a bigger crime than stuffing myself to finish it.

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  16. So much in the name of entertainment! Its disgusting to see all the hogging and laughing when we do know that there are many out there who have to go to bed on an empty stomach. One should respect the things that one is blessed with. And to think of it, such kind of shows and stunts are only on the rise. There is one more now, one fat man and a few brides something. Dont know the exact premise, but seems that producers have now realised that anything to do with food will get them all the eyeballs.

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    1. you are right about food getting eyeballs. The channel on food (Food Food) has some disgusting shows about eating. While I like cookery shows — some of them — these disgust me to the extreme. I just saw the title of the Fat man thing. Wonder what it is about. Anything to divide the rich and poor, seems to be the motto these days, whether the news or other programmes.

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  17. These competitions encourage gluttony, forgetting the starving millions, who go without food for days together as so thoughtfully observed by you. . Further, they seem to live for eating instead of eating for just living. Yet another nauseating programme in one of the English News channels, shows on either Saturdays or Sundays, a gourmet, tasting different types of dishes and interviewing the chef reg the recipe etc etc. The net result for persons like me , who spend their leisure in watching only English News channels or Discovery Science, National Geography etc, make one abhor to switch on the TV on Saturdays and Sundays. I will not be surprised if in the next couple of years, these types of contests enter the Olympic arena as well.

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    1. ‘If one can’t eat, then watch others eat’ seems to be the motto of TV shows. I like watching cookery shows to learn new recipes but these ‘food’ shows and eating competitions are revolting at times. Watching what the CEO of a company eats and likes, what the erstwhile roayl families eat…What is the point of these programmes? About eating competitions in Olympics, I do hope not, GNB! Let them spare that at least :D

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  18. My dad was always strict about finishing what is in the plate and then have more..
    and i also remember the college canteen times , half the Tea, and if another friend comes , divide it into three ..

    I detest junk food and do my utmost to make sure I don’t have it .. I cant remember the last time I had Mcdonalds or burger king.

    and I hate the people most who waste food without thinking there are people dying because of hunger and here we are wasting food , shameful.

    I don’t drink coke or pepsi either, prefer to buy a bottle of water rather than a can of coke, I guess its how i was brought up that has helped me ..

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    1. As I pointed out in the reply to Chits, our elders shared with those who didn’t have enough, not by giving them left overs and ‘poor food’ alone, but what they ate themselves. That is true sharing, right? Not if you stuffed yourself with rich food and gave them roti subzi. Even that is fine, as long as you think of giving if not sharing. I am glad you are following your father’s advice. I am sure you are also passing it on :)

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  19. An excess of food or for that matter anything (think gold) is a way of showing off. I know people who will cook an inordinate amount of food as a way of showing off. They of course think it is hospitality.

    I have a friend whose grocery and food bills are mind-boggling, and downright obscene. They are a family of 4 and a dog and every lunch and dinner meal needs to have two non-veg dishes, two veg dishes, rice, chapati, salad, dal, a sweet and chocolates. If it is a festival day then there has to be a meat, a chicken and a fish dish and then some more. I cannot even describe the amount of waste that is generated in the house.

    When I asked her about this practice, she said that both she and her husband grew up with a lot of deprivation and this was their way of overcoming those memories.

    She is a close friend, but I cannot bring myself to visit her house as I get nauseated by the amount of food served and thrown away. It has been nearly 3 years now since I have been to her house !

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    1. On the contrary, I would think that deprivation should make one appreciate food and not waste it. The question is, how can one digest that kind of heavy food every day? I remember reading somewhere that the poor and deprived are genetically unable to assimilate rich foods and are thus prime targets for heart and other lifestyle diseases like diabetes. For instance, I can never eat and digest stuff I have not grown up eating — rich and oily food don;t agree with my spartan system and when I do eat them, I have to go on a period of fasting to purge my system of the toxins. I can understand your reluctance to visit them, especially given the wastage of food. I have come away from weddings without eating when I have caught glimpses of the food thrown in the garbage. Hope your friend understands the harm it is causing her and her family to indulge so.

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  20. As kids when we overate during a festival/feast and then groan/moan about ‘eating too much’, my grandfather would always remind us that we must develop the habit of getting up from the table feeling ‘I could have had tad more’ but refrain from indulging in that ! He certainly practiced it all his life and lived healthy till 92 !
    Have watched in shocking wonder the tv show Man vs Food that you’ve mentioned ! Dunno the purpose of the show still !
    About the post – my thoughts exactly !

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    1. The reason why our elders lived healthy and even long was because of the moderation in their eating. When the families were rich, they gave generously to others and when thewy were not, they ate frugally and sensibly. Today the population is divided sharply into the haves and have nots and the haves indulge most of the time without a thought to the other half and even when they give, it is the same kind of food the poor would be eating, and not what the rich eat.

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  21. Nice read.I have always wondered about the food that goes waste during our wedding feasts.As a policy I never waste any food on my banana leaf.As to a buffet one should take what one can finish.

    And the TV shows like Man V/S Food is a shame.

    I have always been surprised at the number of bins that gets filled in food court from wasted food.

    In a way it all starts at home.We should encourage our children to eat what is served on the plate.

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    1. The food wasted in the bins in food courts are cleared by the poor waiter, who despite his smart uniform might not be getting the same food from the outlet and eating a sparse meal after long working hours. Why serve huge helpings that make people waste food?

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  22. As a child I always remember cleaning my plate before I took second helpings. I believe that all of us now do everything in excess eating, shopping watching TV etc. We abuse our privileges and do not think of the consequences.

    I hate it when people pile up lots of food on their plate in wedding buffets and then don’t finish it and throw it away. I wonder if they were never taught the value of food. Such a relevant post Zephyr..

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    1. You were brought up by sensible parents, Vinita. Today the mothers instruct their children in shops to ‘take whatever you want. Don’t start crying for them after going home.’ Gluttony begins early and goes on becoming worse as they grow. Waste follows naturally. Food left on plates in wedding receptions is really huge and it all goes into the garbage. :(

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  23. Hi Zephyr

    I have seen that program you mentioned on TLC and it is indeed disgusting. Even food items I may be able to tolerate watching…Earthworms? Yuck!

    And seriously all this does not make any sense as you said with millions starving all over the world…

    Tell me about these cola s and other drinks….Somehow people are crazy about them and guess its easier and cheaper to serve at parties etc(the non-alcoholic ones)..So they stick to it and yes, the bottle size keeps increasing!

    End of the day who does not like publicity though its an extremely crazy act of gluttony? Thats whats happening i suppose!

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    1. No Jaish, even food items look disgusting when it is gobbled up at that speed by massive men picking them up from troughs as big as our water tanks. Colas are cheap and so harmful that I wonder why the government is not banning or at least putting a cap on the size of bottles sold. As for publicity, I wonder what these men and women will be celebrating when the effects of binge eating and gluttony catches up with them?

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  24. Oh, I was reading an article in Times of India where there are professionals who train these people. How disgusting can it get?

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    1. Oh, I didn’t see that one! So now we have professionals who teach people ways to hasten their death :(

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  25. As children , we were served judicious portions at meals; you could always ask for seconds, but if you left anything /wasted anything, we were always told that the stuff would be in a garland around our neck when we went to school, and visions of appearing in the school assembly with garlands of bhindi,, rotis and assorted stuff, kind of kept us in check. Events like weddings etc had these sit down served dinners, with a left side of the plate and right side of the plate meant for certain specific foodstuffs, as is the maharashtrian custom.

    Ever since commercials were allowed on television, we’ve become a greedy society which has lost all perspective. We proudly mention television reaching into villages, and then show these obscene food wasting shows to folks who are being given rotten mid-day meals in schools, thanks to some corrupt politician. Today wedding meals are like a competition for displaying how much money you can throw to impress someone. A young girl emphasizing and requesting someone in the family to avoid colas as a single glass contains so many gms of sugar , is roundly rebuked , and folks indulgently smile at a posh looking person who takes great pride in saying how her family refuses to eat such and such unless there is a cola alongside. (These are true observations).. Doctors do research on obesity, the government turns a blind eye to labelling, and pharma companies lick their lips ad introduce fancy meds in the market . You extrapolate all these changes, and you get all these gluttonous attitudes, not just in food but in everything.

    Left and right earlier had a meaning in the sides of the plate meant for certain foods. Today, they dont care what is left in the plate, and they dont know what is right for them either; just an entire society with a knee jerk attitude to money.

    Sorry this almost became a post….:-))

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    1. If you were threatened with garlands of wasted food, we were threatened with potlis of them tied to our heads :D Our parents were sensitive enough of those who had less or nothing and believed in sharing what we had, which was not unlimited as it is today. Food is never wasted when served by our elders, who knew how much a growing up child needed and what an elderly person required. Some food was denied to these groups too because they were hard to digest, remember? But at large functions food was wasted in this method of serving.

      At the cost of being called a retrograde person, I would say that the advent of globalisation is the cause for the gluttony in our country. The MNCs have found a vast and endless market for potentially useless but harmful products like colas and wafers and chips. They are peddled as lifestyle eats on top of that. At my workplace these youngsters used to order a ‘drink’ to go with their lunch and asked me incredulously how I ate without any such accompaniment. When I told them that cola interferes with digestion, they used to shrug as if to dismiss the claim. All said and done, there is little respect for life in our wonderful country and everyone beginning with the law-makers to the ordinary citizen are part of it.

      You comments are always full of wisdom, Suranga. You are welcome to make them as long as you like. :)

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  26. I was watching Masterchef Australia a few days back and they had a team challange where they had to go to all the top hotels and bring back leftovers and cook a delicious meal out of it. I somehow found the concept very good. There is so much food we waste every day. If there are organisations that collect food from hotels, weddings, birthday parties and distribute it to the needy, that would be great. I wonder if we have anything of that sort in India?

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    1. I have heard of NGOs going to collect food from the big hotels and distribute them in slums and night shelters in Calcutta. Wonder why more such organisations are not doing the same in other cities? But do you know how much food is left on the plates? Even if this food is sent to feed animals it is fine. But when it goes into the garbage, we have desperate humans fighting for them with the animals. How dehumanising can our wastefulness be? Do we even pause to think?

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  27. In a developing nation like ours, images of people gorging up food for the sake of records or bets is unfortunate. And you are right. Who cares for these stupid records? We need to be sensitive about wasted food, considering a vast majority goes without two square meals a day. Very apt post, as always.
    What also troubles me is the sight of rotting grain in godowns….In Gujarat, one godown was storing liquor bottles while tonnes of grain lay rotting outside. Unfortunate!

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    1. If they can’t have grains, let them have booze! Who cares for the other section of our populace? As long as we have our large Pepsi and unlimited buffet lunch, and the poor boy to clean up our mess after us, all is well with the world. And when the heart gives up, or the liver goes, then we can suffer and understand the pain of not being able to eat.

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  28. They say, the pendulum swings to the other extreme before it retraces its path. My question is, are we even halfway through the sick path? It seems that the earth will fly away with the voracious gluttons after all!

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    1. Sadly we are not even half-way, Umashankar. Gluttony is the watchword for this generation, which flaunts it all and in the face of the poor. It is creating a seething cauldron of unrest in their minds and waiting to explode. But the gluttons sooner than later pay the price in terms of their health, when even their names in the Guinness Book can’t save them.

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  29. Gosh! I never thought of it this way…you gave me something new to think about!!

    These buffets are the worst you know…I end up just eating and eating and then repenting (forget the weight gain!, its the bloatiness, the weird feeling in the tummy, etc etc) why I ate so much…

    Super post and thank you for opening my eyes or something in those lines!

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    1. Did you read Pattu’s comment? The buffets are all masked left-overs :D So beware the next time you go to a restaurant and pile up your plate with stuff. And do keep the eyes open :D

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  30. Zephyr , your observations are correct and you would notice that most of such programs are beamed on channels watched by those who are well off and already well stuffed! In a mad rush to follow Western lifestyles the traditions of eating at home are given a go by! Only when the doctors diagnose blocked arteries, overweight, high BP etc, the people realize that it is already late to correct the lifestyle!

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    1. But Rahul, these well off and well fed people also employ poor people as maids and other help round their house and one can only imagine what they must be feeling about such shows. We are making things like TV cheap and the poor might not have enough to eat, but surely can watch such programmes and seethe.

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  31. I realized that we are all greedy when it comes to food and hence decided never to go to a restaurant for buffet. Out of pure greed, I fill my plate with all sorts of sundries that I later feel awful about eating. Also, the quality of food is also not very good when you eat out typically and more so in a buffet, so I am stuffing bad over-priced bad food for which I pay with my health later. Give me my thayir saadam, I say :)

    I feel in India, may be across the world too, the disparity between the haves and have-nots is just widening and it reflects in all facets of our lives, including our eating habits, festivals, weddings etc… Gone are the days of simple meals, weddings; now everything has become a statement and one-upmanship is the name of the game.

    At the risk of brickbats I say that we have bid adieu to the philosophy of our elders – “simple living and high thinking” – and are welcoming the new-age philosophy “high living and simple thinking”. Sigh!

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    1. A-kay has put it rightly. The Buffet quality in most hotels, are nothing but left overs over a period of time,passed off as breakfast unlimited, lunch unlimited… Better to be wary of them.

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    2. Ha ha, nothing to beat the thayir saadam, right? Or the khichdi or even dal roti. You are so right about ostentation taking over our celebrations, eating and other habits. When you see a poor cleaner boy throwing out all the food in the bin in a hotel, you can imagine the anger he feels at the patrons. Is it any wonder that we have so many crimes in the society? How long can one section of the society watch another hog and then waste food so? Today simple living means stuff like ‘nude make-up’ and ‘natural fibres’ which cost the earth. So where is the simplicity? :(

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  32. my God! I thought this nonsense only happened in the US! Why do we insist on blindly imitating the West? Especially now, since a large part of the West has actually come to their senses about gluttony after seeing their obesity, diabetes and heart attack rates skyrocketing?!!

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    1. This is not all, Mom of A and a. Do you remember a movie called Zindagi na milegi dobara? After that some desi types had a tomato festival in Bangalore, I think. Imagine tonnes of tomatoes being wasted in a country like ours. Is it any wonder that the have-nots are seething with anger at the callous haves? And who cares about diseases? Recently there was a study that found that Delhi children are among the most obese in the country. Delhi rocks!

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  33. I wonder if these programs are funded by any hospital association? I mean, they are the ones who gain in the end right? :)

    Destination Infinity

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    1. That is a thought, DI. I think we should add them too in the list of vested interests, and why leave out the pharmaceutical industry? Gluttony is big business indeed!

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  34. Hmm…didn’t their parents teach them not to play with food? :-|

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    1. But their parents might be encouraging them to go and create that world record :)

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  35. About time we had the these programs getting awarded the ‘least watched programs on TV’ award :) :)

    I know it was but a passing mention about the mobile phones to BPL families but that, actually, has the laudable intent of getting them into the banking network via mobile banking and targeting subsidies to them. There may, and probably will, be many a slip in the implementation but the intent is probably above reproach!

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    1. But I am not sure about them being the least watched programmes, Suresh :( For instance, the one I watched had hundreds of people including children cheering the competitors on, probably because it was hosted by a popular actor. As for the lofty intentions of the distribution of mobile phones, there is a saying in Hindi — Haathi ke daant khane ke aur or dikhane ke aur — what is apparent is not what is the fact.

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  36. These shows, and record breaking trysts, are all part of the mindless , mind numbing stuff, we are encouraged to do, in our country. To forget the reality and to live in fool’s paradise. Encouraged by Govt, and vested interests. Masses are falling like flies into that mindless existence and the organisers are raking in whatever they can get.

    Thoughtful post Zephyr.

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    1. You know, the quest for fame makes people do absurd things. while creating records like climbing Mt.Everest or plumbing the depths of the ocean are hard and beyond the reach of people, eating is within their reach, I guess.But if only they stopped to think about the absurdity and the harm they are causing their health, not to speak of the waste of food, they might abolish such records. After all, they have abolished the eating of inedible stuff like metal and glass, haven’t they?

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  37. wonderful post, Zephyr! as usual you have managed to put your finger on something that has always bothered me, but I have never really talked or written about! while i hate most of these ‘records’ of all kinds…. these food records are the worst! its simply disgusting to see them, and i cant imagine who actually does watch them!

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    1. The show I wrote about, for instance must have been watched because it was anchored by a popular actor. Other shows being popular is simply beyond me. Perhaps it is a kind of fascination coupled with revulsion that makes them do it. Whatever, I am not a fan of these, because I am thinking ‘why not give that to a starving family?’ For the same reason, I find ostentatious weddings with their jumbo spread vulgar.

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  38. Two notes:

    1. The largest cup size at Starbucks is the Trenta, clocking at a whopping 916 ml. The average human stomach has a volume of about 900 ml.

    2. I was once advised that 1/4th of my stomach must always remain empty, I should eat to a fill of no more than 3/4th of my capacity. Hence typically, whenever I am at a limitless spread, I fill my plate to less than half capacity. I allow the food to settle in, before deciding whether I’m hungry for more or whether my brain is still to process the report from the stomach’s filled status which is inevitably slower than a snail’s direction finder.

    Quite often, I end up eating less than my capacity, but full enough for my needs. And that, for me, is enough.

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    1. That Starbuck cup must be an extended family size one! Thanks for the info on the capacity of the stomach :) what you do at buffets is admirable indeed. I do the same too, mainly because I am unable to digest the heavy food. Take a tsp. full of a few of the dishes with one roti or half cup of pulao and then feel full finishing it all off. I often wonder how people can eat more than their capacity just because something is tasty.

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        1. If it were a fruit juice, I can understand, but a fizzy drink?

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  39. Nice analysis. By the way there is one more aspect to this as well. Scientific research is showing people who eat just enough tend to live longer. So from a selfish angle also it makes sense to discover the minimum food required and eat at that level to live longer.

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    1. It is always best to remain a little hungry at the end of the meal, and if it has such a benefit, what more incentive do we need?

      Like

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