My first encounter with ‘slop,’ happened in the first school I taught at, two years ago, Longhua Middle School. Lunch consisted of sifting through vegetables and bits of meat avoiding as much bone as possible. Once during lunch, a coworker offered, ‘you know they feed leftovers to the pigs.’ ‘What!?’ ‘Yeah, nothing’s wasted here.’
Lunch here is like anywhere else, when finished eating, you are shuffled to a ‘trashcan,’ containing only food waste. I used to assume this was a general trashcan and would throw my tissue in as well. Now, I fully understand just what this container entails. Slop.
One Saturday morning I went downstairs to do my laundry. Rounded the backside of the school canteen and found my washing machine. Threw in my articles and rounded the corner yet again, this time I was confronted with a cart full of blue tubs and a man. The man’s hands were inside the tub searching for contents unsuitable for pig-feed, so I assumed. Of all the jobs I’ve seen people do, in China, this makes top five. He had a total of five buckets to comb through and a getaway cart to deliver slop.
I now understand the importance of not letting utensils drop in with the waste. Once I dropped my chopsticks, one coworker, said, ‘no, there’s no hope.’ I quickly plucked the sticks out with very little harm.
Slop comes in other forms too. Sometimes I see big dumps of food lay drying on sidewalks. I am not sure if people will later consume this or not.
Saturday mornings and some evenings I often see slop delivery men making the rounds. Both the smell & blue buckets residing on the cart give these men away.
No food left behind.
I have found out why Chinese people treasure meat so much, back during food shortages [Cultural Revolution] nobody had any meat. David told me one of his happiest memories involves meat. One night, David’s dad brought home some noodles with little bits of meat for the family to share. David was eight. During this time tofu became a staple.
I also found out why birthdays are so overlooked. The only thing a child got for his or her birthday was one egg.
I’ve read numerous reports saying, ‘in the US, we waste 40% of food.’ According to CNN, ‘$165 billion a year in waste.’ Many grocery stores and restaurants lock their trashcans so vagrants can’t make use of wasted food.
I respect, I understand, and I salute slop.