Portion Perspective

Canadian writers Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon went a year eating only food produced within 100 miles of their Vancouver apartment. Hence the 100 Mile Diet, an idea and a book (although the U.S. version, oddly, has a different title–Plenty).  

The two locavores are on a book tour, and MacKinnon posted a blog entry from the road providing a Canadian perspective on America’s massive portions. While his findings won’t shock any American who’s eaten out in the last, oh, 10 years, it’s always useful to get an outsider’s perspective:

America, your meal sizes are incredible…I see appetizers that offer easily enough food for a full meal, and full meals that are so large that just looking at them and knowing how much of the food will go to waste has ruined my appetite.

Here, here!

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  1. Posted November 13, 2007 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    I have to say that while it is crazy how much we Americans eat if you are smart (aka a poor college student) you make your $4 burrito into four $1 meals. When I was in school it was all about where we could get the biggest meal for the least and then we would either split it there or everyone would take home at least lunch or often lunch and dinner for the next day. Heck I STILL do it!

  2. Jonathan
    Posted November 14, 2007 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    You’re smart to do so, Liz. Yet, not as many people are as shrewd to see a 2,000 calorie dish as four meals. Some folks are gonna try to finish what you put in front of them.

    Another point to consider is that some people are frustrated with having to choose between overeating, taking home leftovers or wasting food. I’ve spoken with many people who just don’t like leftovers. You and I don’t have that problem. But those who do, resent choosing between three unattractive options at restaurants.

    A better model, for most people, would be getting a smaller portion for less money. So T.G.I. Friday’s Right Portion, Right Price menu is a step in the right direction.

  3. KTHunter
    Posted December 27, 2007 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I agree. I have seen some of the local “upscale” restaurants here offer half-portions… and even those are rather larger than I can eat for a meal! I never mind leftovers. I use a bento lunch-box to carry leftovers to work. (Depending on the restaurant in question, I can even get looks of envy from others because of the leftovers!) However, it would be great if I had more control of how much food they gave me when I ordered a given entree. Portions are almost always much larger than they need to be. I have been served single meals that were enough to cover my caloric needs for the entire day, if not two days.

    I think part of the “logic” behind the large portioning is that they have to somehow justify the high prices they are charging for a dish. People don’t mind paying more for dishes on which they get more food (even if it is food that costs pennies to put on the plate, like pasta or rice). In most cases, people would be harder pressed to pay that same price for a smaller portion (unless you are at a REALLY gourmet place, where the logic seems to go the other direction).

    I think that the portions we are given in these cases train us to believe that we need to actually eat this much. Many of us (including myself) overeat because we have no idea what a good portion looks like!

    But if more restaurants were willing to offer half-portions (with commensurate prices), I would definitely purchase them.

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