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Throwing food

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  • Throwing food

    Dear Venerable,

    We have been told by many people even since our childhood to refrain from doing this or encouraged to do that, but we do not always know the reason behind that. We have mixed values instilled within us.

    If someone works in F&B industry or has his own business selling food & beverages products, at the end of the day, most of the time it's inevitable we have to throw away the food. The question is, is throwing food bad kamma or not? What's your thoughts on this? Please share your thoughts, thanks.:

  • #2
    Hi Steve, just letting you know that the Venerables are currently on retreat. It may take some weeks before someone can answer you question. Metta


    • #3
      Dear Steve,

      First of all, please excuse me for taking so long to reply - I have only just gotten back into the swing of things!

      Yes... this is something I struggle with as well, I too have had it instilled into me to not waste food. 'Think of all the starving children in Africa!' my mother used to say. Yet, even in a monastery, food gets thrown away daily, as we too have to abide by food safety regulations, the monastery being a public place. So I feel for you...

      Some thoughts -

      First of all, kamma is intention – so the question you must ask yourself is ‘what is my intention in throwing away the food’? Is it because of a sense of care for the health and safety of those who might consume the food, eg expired food etc. Is it simply following health and safety regulations so your business does not run the wrong side of the law? If you are doing it out of a positive motivation like caring for others’ safety, then it would not be so unwholesome. And if you are following the industry's regulations, it is not your PERSONAL intention to be wasteful, in fact, in your heart, it sounds like you'd rather NOT have anything to do with it. I don't think it is such bad kamma, as in your own heart, you have no intention to cause harm (harm in this case being more broadly defined- ie. by being wasteful and not caring for the planet as a whole).

      However, you are part of the process, and it’s hard to keep your conscience clear. It eats into your heart. If it was at all possible, I would try to find a way to minimise the waste. For example, give it to a shelter, or feed animals, or maybe donate some of your income to feeding a child! A positive to counteract the negative.

      Here's a long shot - think of it as a dana for the worms and maggots!

      So kamma is not so much the doing, but the motivation behind it. The motivation to harm or to sow seeds of goodness, this is what kamma is. One can have ill-will toward throwing away food, that's a problem too - I have that one.

      Hope this eases your mind in some way.
      With metta,
      Ven Upekkha



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