Steps should be taken to stop diners wasting food, says an article in People's Daily Overseas Edition. An excerpt follows:
As a waitress in one of Shanghai's most famous restaurants, Xiao Pan feels uneasy as she sweeps huge piles of leftovers from customers' plates into the rubbish bin.
According to her, customers usually consume only half of the food they order, and as for the leftovers, they would rather dump them than take them home.
Xiao Pan's experiences reveal only the tip of the iceberg. Dinner table profligacy is frequently witnessed in restaurants nationwide.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the total retail sales of the catering industry in the first half of this year amounted to 401.6 billion yuan (US$49.5 billion), which marks a 17.9 per cent surge compared to the same period of 2004. But beneath the veneer of this admirable surge is serious food squandering.
Not long ago the government vowed to exert huge efforts to promote frugality. The first step is combating unnecessarily extravagant feasting.
Some frequent visitors to luxurious banquets pay the bill with public money. These people tend to order expensive dishes at deluxe restaurants.
Many Chinese are under the impression that hospitality should be shown at the dinner table, so they often order more than enough dishes for their friends and happily boast of their extravagance as a proxy for friendliness.
Many do not take leftovers home as they think that would suggest they could not fund a high-flying lifestyle.
The absence of a complete set of laws to punish those who waste food has encouraged this harmful social phenomenon. However, the deep-rooted reason is people's diminished food-saving consciousness.
Respect for the fruits of others' labour has been watered down as many have such radically improved living standards. In addition, they think negatively about frugality while feeling proud of being extravagant.
China cannot afford this kind of waste, either financially or morally. We need to feed impoverished minds with more positive suggestions about being frugal.