Kids in my generation were encouraged to join the clean plate club. Many of us feel that practice of always cleaning your plate led to weight issues in adulthood. Did we misinterpret the clean plate club? What were its true intentions? Was it designed to grow a generation of over-eaters? Certainly not. In fact, the clean plate club originated as a noble cause. I discovered clean plate posters, from the year my Dad was born, on Wikimedia Commons. That was 1919. People were starving all over the world. What was the original intent of the clean plate club? Could its message still be valid for modern kids? Should your kids be members?
I found the clean plate club posters enlightening, to say the least. Here are some of the messages included on them:
*Save food for world relief
*300 million hungry people are watching your plate
*When you're finished eating is there food left on your plate?
*Did you order or serve yourself more than you needed?
In the poster pictured, Uncle Sam asks for:
*No extra meal.
The original clean plate club members were not consumerist baby boomers. They were the kids of my parents' generation. They were the children of the Depression era. The clean plate club was intended to teach children to appreciate the food on their table; eating only what they needed, thereby leaving food for the hungry. Unfortunately, by the time my generation came along, the message wasn't all that clear. It had morphed into eat everything on your plate, or else. Definitely not a club today's kids should be members of. They're already well educated in devouring precious resources, thanks to their parents and grand-parents.
I find it ironic that my clean plate club generation became so obsessed with consumerism. In fact, we've effectively gobbled up everything on our plates, leaving little for generations to come. Perhaps we were a bit too appreciative of the proverbial food on our plates. Maybe if we hadn't misinterpreted the message behind the clean plate club, the world would have a few more resources in the present day.
Maybe your kids would do well to become members of the original clean plate club. You know, the one designed to stamp out world hunger, end wastefulness and encourage generosity and goodwill?
I often wish my dad was still alive. He could pass on tips for frugal living to my children and grandchildren. He could teach them to live simply so that others may simply live. On the other hand, I don't think Dad would feel all that comfortable here. I know Mom even has a hard time understanding the ways of society and she was always the modern one. Maybe it's best that the original members of the clean plate club are a dying breed; the way their great grand-kids live would likely be the death of them anyway.
Maybe we should start a new kind of clean plate club for this generation of youth. Would you be up for letting your kids join? We could call it The Green Movement. Kind of a catchy phrase isn't it? Too bad it's up for interpretation.
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