Why Takeout Is Evil...And Other Stuff to Feel Guilty About

Illustration for article titled Why Takeout Is Evil...And Other Stuff to Feel Guilty About

So, takeout makes for a lot of environmentally-unfriendly plastic. But cooking for one results in wasted food. Oh noes! What's the guilty eater to do? In today's "Green Lantern" column, Slate writer Jacob Leibenluft takes on to-go's carbon footprint. Can we justify it in these greening times? More to the point, can we do so and sleep at night?Leibenluft presents us with a hypothetical: to make lo mein or to buy it. He finds that both have downsides (packaging; energy-inefficient appliances as opposed to the wasted food when cooking for one) and that ultimately it's kind of a wash. As he concludes, "what you eat almost always matters more, environmentally speaking, than how you eat it." That said, the energy overhead at a restaurant is enormous, so "environmentally speaking", it's a definite luxury. Financially speaking, too: for most of us, the issue is probably at least as much fiscal. While it's a myth to claim that home cooking is always cheaper - anyone who's done it knows you have to scheme - cooking in a batch and eating off of it is far more cost-effective than getting takeout for each of those meals. We get takeout, for the most part, when we don't have time to cook, or if we are ill, or at the office, rather than as a day-to-day alternative. Certainly I for one am not going to order in Chinese when I have the time and energy to make from-scratch lo mein. Basically, it seems like if you have to ask "can I justify this on environmental grounds," you already know what the answer is. For my own part, I have a harder time justifying making a delivery guy bike through freezing rain so I can get a burger without leaving the house. As is usually the case with guilt, it's expensive (tip-wise). Much cheaper all around to sacrifice novelty (which is what we're really talking about here) and cook something for eight. Since I'm currently plowing into my third day of vegetable stew, I'm in a position to sermonize! An Order Of Lo Mein With A Side Of Guilt [Slate]

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Cooking for one doesn't HAVE to waste food, I can't figure out why you or he would imply that as a given. I cook for myself every day, sometimes twice a day and exceedingly rarely to I throw anything out.