What Is the Most Thrown Away Food?

Credit to Author: Drew Magary| Date: Tue, 05 Nov 2019 19:30:32 +0000

Oh hello there. My name is Drew and I take stupid questions much more seriously than is reasonable. This column used to run over at Deadspin but due to extenuating circumstances, that’s no longer gonna be the case. For now, the folks at VICE are letting me crash on the couch until I get back on my feet. So while I’m here, let’s answer some of your letters. OFF WE GO.


Counting only stuff that actually makes it onto a plate, what's the most thrown away food? My guess is wasabi. Every serving of sushi comes with an absolute boulder of the stuff. Now I like my soy dip hot as hell, yet I still only ever use about a quarter of what's provided. Worldwide, I can't see more than 10% of the wasabi that gets served actually making it into people's stomachs.

Let me say all the pedantic shit first, otherwise some aspiring foodie will butt in and get all snooty about it. The wasabi paste you get with takeout sushi usually isn’t REAL wasabi. If you go to some crazy upscale sushi joint with a $500 omakase menu, they’ll take out the actual wasabi root and grate it in front of you using a platinum microplane that is forged in Hattori Hanzo’s workshop and sold exclusively to heads of the G12 and to no one else. Also, no less an authority than Anthony Bourdain has said that you’re not supposed to do the thing where you dump wasabi and ginger into your little soy sauce ashtray and then muddle it around to make a sushi dipping sauce. That’s all sacrilege, apparently.

Do I CARE about violating any of these edicts? Josh, I do not. I like my imitation wasabi/soy juice and, unlike other ventures, I have little interest in abandoning it out of principle. I dip the FUCK out of my yellowtail/scallion roll into that bad boy. No regrets. Sometimes I’ve even taken a sip of it right from the bowl, because that’s elegant and polite. So I use the wasabi boulder liberally, sometimes adding too much and not realizing it until I take a bite and my sinuses get blown out. I don’t throw too much of the paste away and even if I did, you’re talking about an amount of food the size of a marble. You’re not throwing out enough of it en masse to compete without larger foodstuffs that we, as Americans, seemingly PREFER to waste rather than eat. Such as:

  • Pretzels. You will find a moon-sized bowl of boring-ass pretzels at virtually any office meeting and/or chem-free college dorm party. Those pretzels are not for eating. They are simply there to show you that the organizers felt obligated to provide food but not obligated enough to provide GOOD food.
  • Tomato slices
  • Pasta
  • Rice. This is definitely the #1 answer worldwide. It’s the most eaten foodstuff, which means it’s also the most wasted foodstuff.
  • Popcorn
  • Bread. That goes for shit in the breadbasket at your local restaurant and whatever bread you have at home. Have I opened up a day-old loaf of wheat only to discover it covered in what appears to be sea algae? I have.
  • Side salads. I know urbanites enjoy paying $15 for a bowl of pretty roughage from Sweetgreen or some other place that’s Chipotle, But Boring. But the rest of us actively RESENT salad and would like it purged from the vicinity as quickly as possible.
  • Fries. I know it’s sacrilege to toss out a French fry but once fries get old, they become useless. I eat an old fry and I’m like, “Oh god, this tastes like a potato!” Unacceptable. Also, while I could eat enough fries to blow the windows out of Dr. Jerry Hathaway’s house, I still cannot keep up with American French fry portioning. They give you so many fries that you can actually be picky about WHICH fries within the pile you want. My sons don’t like fries that have too much skin on them. Steak wedges fuck them up.
  • Halloween candy. We still have the bag in our closet. Every year we donate most of it to military care packages and the kids complain, because they hate our troops. This year I’m gonna BURN the goddamn pile right in front of them.

By the way, I bought a tube of wasabi paste from a local Japanese grocery store a while back and put it in the fridge and lemme tell you: the pretend wasabi you get at the mall food court has NO potency compared to this shit. I may as well have swallowed a can of pepper spray.


I just got tickets for my first visit to MetLife Stadium for this MNF game– the cheapest Cowboys tickets I have ever seen. I love attending away games and all the unique sights, secret add-ons, and one-off eateries. Do you have any insight or record of gotta-do’s when goin to MetLife? Everything I find online indicates it’s a nondescript temple of mediocrity.

I have friends who have gone to the Giants and Jets newish stadium and they all said, to a man, that it was boring and shitty: a billion-dollar hotel lobby where sports happen to be played, just like the new Yankee Stadium. So my only advice to you for having fun at MetLife is to get obscenely drunk, to the point of endangering your physical health. What else is there to do? You may as well have gone to Iowa. I, for one, enjoy being drunk (or, in my current incarnation, stoned as balls) in anodyne spaces. In fact, one time I was IN Iowa one time for a magazine assignment and, late one night, I got loaded and walked the aisles of a nearby Wal-Mart. No regrets. Sometimes you walk around boring places and you feel like the most exciting thing in it.

Also, leave that stadium and beat the traffic.


Am I a complete weirdo if approximately 70% of the reason I enjoy asparagus is because it makes my pee smell weird? I can't be the only person that gets a kick out of this right?

No no, of course you’re not. Weird smells are fun. BAD smells are fun. I have no shame in scarfing down a bunch of roasted asparagus, retiring to the pisser, and then taking in the bouquet of acrid piss flowing out of me. The smell comes on so fast! LIKE MAGIC.

I think the first time I tried asparagus was BECAUSE my old man told me it made your piss smell weird. Before that, I avoided asparagus due to general childhood veggiephobia. But then my dad was like, “You know it makes your piss smell like it’s raining garbage, right?” and that was all the incentive I required.

By the way, I’m sure this is my fault with preparation, but cutting a whole stalk of asparagus on the plate is a pain in the ass. I never get all the way through it, and I end up either A) smushing the thing, B) eating half the stalk with a long strand of it hanging out of the side of my mouth, or C) folding the entire stalk and trying to eat it like it’s an udon noodle. None of these outcomes are optimal. For asparagus, I require a steak knife. And a steak. Mostly a steak.


A guy I know follows 97,000 twitter accounts, because he's an idiot. How many accounts can you follow on Twitter before your feed becomes impossible to keep track of?

I follow about 400 accounts and that’s about my maximum. Half those accounts are now barely active anyway, or I’ve muted them because they suck at Twitter but I don’t want to unfollow them and then have me notice and ask why I did that (and I’ve been asked that by people before). Like, I follow Network Notes, which tweets roughly three times a year. That’s my kind of follow. Once you go follow more than 500-1,000 accounts, you’re just following people so that they follow you back. You’re Taye Diggs. You’re not actually absorbing any of my shit if you follow me but also a million others, and that’s insulting to me on a personal level. Have some goddamn class.

I labor under the delusion that I have good taste in Twitter and that if I grant you a follow, I have certified you as being Good Online. I don’t follow new people often, so when I do, it takes me a second to adjust to the new feed. I’m like, “Whoa hey who invited this new guy? He ain’t bad!” Conversely, I often forget that I have the power to mute/unfollow people, and then when it occurs to me, I act like I just discovered cold fusion. OMG you mean I don’t have to read what Yashar Ali has to say anymore? I’m free!


Do you think Trump has shit his pants while he's been president?

Lotta people think he wears a literal diaper because if you’ve ever seen a photo of Trump out golfing, he’s got strange bulges in his nether regions that would make even Mike Francesa cock an eyebrow. We’re not talking about normal dick and butt bulges. We’re talking about vestigial outgrowths, wadded up golf course scorecards, and foreign objects.

I wanna say yes to your question, because it seems obvious that Trump’s rectum is a faucet that is never fully turned off. He’s an old man with Oscar the Grouch’s dietary habits. Everything we know about biology says that man makes himself a fresh tray of brownies and sends them directly into his undies every afternoon. But everything we know about biology ALSO says that Trump should be fucking dead right now. His heart should be made of pure queso. His urethra should be a conga line of kidney stones. His lungs should be the size of raisins. PG&E should have cut off power to his brain to prevent sudden fires.

And yet, he persists. So he probably eats a taco salad and then sits down on the toilet the next morning and mints a perfectly symmetrical bolus that could be displayed in an art museum. Nothing about the man makes sense, so I don’t see why his digestive system should. Therefore, my answer is a heartbroken no.


How soon until the NCAA brings back the Final Four consolation game?

Never. Fuck that.


Is there any prouder middle age meathead in the US than a dad whose kid plays for one of the major sports leagues? I would be a total ass.

I would be, too. I could try to play it cool, but that doesn’t really work. Whenever they cut to Archie Manning during any of Eli’s or Peyton’s NFL games he would be chill, but that didn’t matter because the announcers would be like THERE HE IS, ALL-TIME GREAT ARCHIE MANNING, NOW CONTENT TO BE A PROUD PAPA. Archie may as well have worn a World’s Greatest QB Spawner t-shirt to games and then done ice luge shots on camera. No point in hiding your innate dadness when everyone knows it’s there anyway.

My son plays youth soccer and we were told, prior to the season, to be cool or else we’d get banned from attending games. They were even gonna assign one parent a week to patrol all the other parents to, and this is true, hand them a lollipop if they were getting too loud or hostile toward players, coaches, refs, nearby squirrels, etc. I was never given those duties, which is a shame because I’m from Minnesota and giving a lollipop to someone as a way of chastising them gives off the strongest dose of Minnesota energy outside of a plate of wild rice.

I am a proud soccer dad even when I try to hide it. When opposing parents cheer, I don’t react but I’m quietly thinking Are they… Are they cheering for the OTHER boys? Well that can’t be right. When the other team scores, I quietly seethe. So if my son ever worked his way up to the Premier League, I would cast politesse aside and paint his name in gold across my chest AND my shoulder blades. He would probably have me barred from Tottenham Stadium grounds.



I can't (won't?) use shift when typing. Instead, when I need to capitalize a letter, I turn Caps Lock on, type the letter, and then turn it off and continue typing. I thought this was relatively normal behavior. Am I certifiably insane?

That is NOT normal. I’m not ready to call you insane, but you’re definitely the proverbial lazy man who works twice as hard. You could have watched a whole YouTube video with the time you would have saved from all that extra typing. But I can’t judge you for this. I have certain inefficient habits that I know are inefficient, but I’m too scared and/or lazy to make the barest amount of effort to change them.

For example, I still put on my underwear while still standing. Perhaps you do as well. But you may not be 43 years old, nor may you be suffering from residual balance issues as a result of partial deafness and permanent brain damage. When I put on my undies standing up, there’s a nonzero chance I’ll go toppling over like a Duke forward taking a charge. One time, I lost my balance and had to grab a nearby dresser just to keep myself upright. I should sit to put on my boxers. That would make more sense. That would also make me the oldest 43-year-old man in human history. I can’t accept that. I won’t. I will RAGE against the dying of the light by precariously balancing on one foot, putting the other foot into my undies, accidentally stepping onto the CROTCH of those undies, and unwittingly pulling myself down to the hardwood floor.


Just bought a new family home. My wife was cleaning out the kitchen when SURPRISE she found a drawer full of toenail clippings left by the seller. Is there a grosser thing you could leave behind in your house?

Well, you could leave a dead body behind. That would be gross. Although it would be WAY more interesting and give you a cool story to tell. No one wants to hear about the Toenail House. But a murder house? You could charge for admission. “And this is where we found the entire Hungus family, their heads and vital organs all removed.”

Why would you put your toenails in a drawer? Why wouldn’t you just stick them under the rug, the way I do? That’s the classy move.


Why can't a child or even a teenager open a bag of chips or a cereal box properly? I'm a stickler for proper opening so closing & freshness are maximized. My kids don't give one shit about that. So the chip bag is gashed from top to bottom, necessitating storage in a Ziploc.

I just yelled at my son about this the other day. I went to get a potato chip, unfurled the bag, and was greeted with a shower of chip crumbs all over the counter. I looked at the bag and there was a gash running straight down the back of it, like it had been vandalized. My kids do not know how to open bags. This is fair in the case of stubborn packaging (God damn you, Honey Nut Cheerios liner bag), but even a basic bag of Doritos ends up in tatters after a first attempt. I told my youngest he was banned from opening shit and he got pissed. He insisted he could do it all himself.

In theory, I should listen to him. You have to let your kids do as much shit on their own as possible, so that they become self-reliant and learn from their mistakes. This is especially true for trivial matters such as opening a chip bag. But I’m sick of spilled Doritos, man. I’ll let the boy drive my car (he’s seven) before I let him ruin one more goddamn bag of food in this house. It’s not worth his independence. He shall remain forever my ward: a helpless young man unable to complete even the most routine of tasks. But at least I won’t have to wipe down the counter for the 56,000th time.

Oh, and one other thing: kids don’t know how to pour food out of a bag or box. When my daughter wants chips, she turns the bag all the way vertical over a bowl. No regard for gravity nor terminal velocity. And she knows about angles, man! She’s an eighth grader. Angles should be her goddamn forte at the present moment. No matter. She dumps that shit out like laundry.


How much would an NFL team realistically pay for a kicker who could execute a perfect onside kick 100% of the time? You know the one that takes a big jump into the air after hitting the ground and goes a perfect 10 yards? Not to say that the kicking team would always recover the ball though. Just that the kicker executes a perfect onside kick.

I don’t think they’d pay much of a premium at all. First of all, plenty of NFL kickers are already adept at getting the ball to go BOINGGGGGGGGGG on an onside attempt. But that hasn’t mattered at all. We’re past midseason and still not a single onside kick has been recovered by an NFL team yet. The play is dead. Even if with a perfect kick off the tee, the rules still make it so that the other team is virtually certain to recover it anyway, unless they pull a Brandon Bostick and just completely shit the bed. Otherwise, you’re talking about a skill that’s been rendered worthless by the powers that be. It’s not worth overpaying for a dude who can increase your recovery odds from zero percent to zero point five percent. It’s worth paying more for a dude who can, you know, kick actual field goals.


How old is too old for St. Patrick's Day parade/bar crawl? My sister (age 43) texted me (age 41) over that weekend to go the local parade and drinking afterward. Believing that the majority of these revelers are half my age (give or take) and also knowing that my wife would not be thrilled with me skipping my son's soccer game and my daughter's girl scouts activity, I declined. But is the parade the same drunken ecstasy I enjoyed in my 20s but can't enjoy as much in my 40s (hooray for mid-life body aches!)? Or is there a sub-current of 40-year-olds going through mid-life crisis that celebrate this every year and I'm blissfully unaware?

You’re talking to a guy who just confessed that he can barely put on underwear anymore. I’d rather eat sawdust off the floor of Rathbone’s than go on a St. Patrick’s Day bar crawl in my current condition. That’s actually not just because of my age. I’ve always hated crowded bars and I’ve always hated bars where you can’t hear your friends talking. Unless you’re trying to get laid (and I support you in that endeavor), you’re in the bar crawl dead zone if you’re my age. Those things are for people who are either 25 or a frisky 65. I still like the IDEA of that shit. I like the idea of raging with all my crazy buddies, on tour from one Tilted Kilt to the next. I just want to do all that from my recliner, that’s all.

I actually went on a bar crawl last year, before I suffered the brain injury that almost killed me. Somehow I was in the mood and somehow I found the energy, and my friends and I went from bar to bar, screaming and hooting and figuring out what bar would we go to NEXT the second we had already arrived somewhere new. I think you can still do that if you’re properly motivated and you have the right company. That is NOT in Murray Hill on at St. Patrick’s Day with 800 dudes named O’Fitz sniffing their armpits around you.


If we exhume and reanimate the great inventors in history, who would be the most shocked at what their invention has transformed into? I imagine Alexander Graham Bell would not even recognize what has become of the telephone, correct?

Yeah but he’d probably be delighted by it. Bell was an absolute fucking madman who was so consumed by his work—and more important, finding a solution to a serious problem as a result of that work—that he barely bothered to shower. So I don’t know if he’d be shocked by an iPhone so much as satisfied to see that other obsessives took his invention and built an entirely new industry and culture around it. Then he’d open up Twitter and be CRUSHED.

It’s hard to shock a dreamer. I wanna tell you that the Wright Brothers would be floored by the advent of the 747 but honestly, so many of these historic innovators were driven by visions of a future insanely beyond both their grasp and their time on Earth. I’ve watched enough old timey Way Of The Future shorts to know that many of these inventors had ambition for their creations that went far beyond what they actually managed to create. What you’re looking for are inventors who did NOT envision their shit not being used as intended, seeing it turn into a monster in the process. And that’s why my answer is the framers of the United States Constitution, because of a certain man known as President Donald J. Tr—


What's the cutoff for local places having local food specialties? I recently heard of a half-smoke which is apparently a janky hot dog found in DC. That's nonsense, Drew, you know I'm right about this.

Hey man, fuck you. Half smokes are great! It’s a hot dog. It’s a smoked snausage. It’s both! Who are you to gripe about such a culinary blessing? Talk about an invention that has remained true to itself.

I think you get to brag about a local food specialty if it’s really yours and it’s really good. The half-smoke fits that criteria. Brisket in Austin, TX does as well. Oh! And New Haven-style apizza too! Those all deserve local pride. A shitty Coney dog in Detroit, not so much.


I stupidly agreed to host my family for dinner on Saturday. I said I'd make something Italian. So give me your best sauce recipe.

Use this Scarpetta one, but fuck using fresh tomatoes. Use canned tomatoes and then just lie about it.

Email of the week (this column always ends with an email of the week)!


First semester freshman year. I had a randomly assigned roommate. He was alright and we got along fine. Fast forward to the end of September, a month and a half into the semester. I get back to the room and find my roommate on the bed surrounded by a lot of small white specks. I quickly realize he has nail clippers and he's cutting his toenails. I say, "hi, how's it going?" He responds with, "pretty good, never done this before." Perplexed, I say, "you've never cut your toenails before?" He says, "no, my mom always did it," like that was totally normal.

So I guess this guy's mom cut his toenails until he was 18 years old. I ended up moving to another dorm when the semester ended.


This article originally appeared on VICE US.