Father’s dump­ster-diving habit causes con­cern

Austin American-Statesman - - COMICS & PUZZLES - Jeanne Phillips Dear Abby

Dear Abby: I have an is­sue with my father and don’t know where to turn. Dad is in his early 80s and — aside from poor eye­sight — he’s in good health. I’m con­cerned be­cause he has de­vel­oped an un­usual habit. He likes to look through the dump­sters be­hind the gro­cery store.

Ini­tially he told me it was to get old pro­duce for com­post in his gar­den. But I have learned that he eats some of the things he finds. I have tried telling him this is dan­ger­ous. He could cut him­self dig­ging through the trash or get food poi­son­ing. He re­fuses to lis­ten and in­sists that what he is do­ing is safe.

The sit­u­a­tion has be­come crit­i­cal be­cause he is now plan­ning to cook some­thing he found in the dump­ster for a fam­ily gath­er­ing. I told him not to do it. If he does pre­pare food from the trash, I told him he must let peo­ple know where it came from, so they can make an in­formed de­ci­sion about whether to eat it. Abby, please help. — Grossed Out

Dear Grossed Out: If you can’t con­vince your father to dis­close to rel­a­tives that the food he’s serv­ing may have come from a dump­ster, YOU should alert them to that pos­si­bil­ity.

P.S. A world­wide trend I heard about re­cently is some­thing called “free­gan­ism.” Free­gans “res­cue” food from be­hind mar­kets to share among them­selves to com­bat food waste, and in Paris, France, there’s even a restau­rant that serves food pro­cured this way for a re­duced fee.

Caveat emp­tor: Peo­ple who con­sume this food should be aware that the food may be past its nu­tri­tional peak, and they may risk a food-borne ill­ness if it wasn’t stored prop­erly.

Dear Abby: My 9-year-old daugh­ter has sev­eral friends whom we love and who are good bud­dies for her. How­ever, the rules in their homes are dif­fer­ent from those at ours. One friend in par­tic­u­lar, “Sarah,” eats a lot of junk food and watches more TV than we al­low. When my daugh­ter asks why she can’t have chips and ice cream af­ter school, or why we watch movies only on week­ends, I re­mind her that good food and ex­er­cise make her healthy, and with less TV she does bet­ter in school.

I’m not in­ter­ested in cri­tiquing Sarah or her fam­ily, who are lovely peo­ple we re­ally like. How­ever, I do want to make the con­nec­tion between un­healthy life­style choices and pos­si­ble con­se­quences be­cause this is a sub­ject we’ll keep re­vis­it­ing as my daugh­ter grows up.

I have been try­ing to say things like, “Ev­ery­one makes their own de­ci­sions. This is why we do it this way,” but at 9, my daugh­ter sees things as pretty black or white. If our way is right, then their way must be wrong. I’m to­tally fail­ing at sub­tlety. Is there a bet­ter ap­proach that I could take to talk­ing about this with­out in­vok­ing com­par­isons? — Life­style Choices in South Dakota

Dear Life­style Choices: Do not at­tempt to de­bate this with your 9-year-old. If your daugh­ter ar­gues with you about your par­ent­ing style, tell her that dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies have dif­fer­ent stan­dards and that you are do­ing what you think is right for yours. Pe­riod. If she needs more of an ex­pla­na­tion, then fall back on the mes­sage you have been send­ing her, and in time she will un­der­stand.

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