The question appears to be extremely amorphous and requires definition and clarification in order that one can address it substantively. What constitutes “food wastage”? And what is the interplay between Shabbat meal preparation and “food wastage”?
Overall, I substantively agree with Rabbi Bieler. Our tradition certainly prohibits the intentional wasting of our natural resources. And as he noted, we are particularly careful with food to try to find a use for any leftovers so that as little food as possible is discarded. Yet, Shabbat and other festival meals are supposed to be celebratory and special. So larger varieties of food do get served and portion sizes tend to be larger, which I think is OK. The gray area here is what is the limit? I think your question brings up the point that we have to be mindful of that line between enhancing a meal appropriately for Shabbat and going too far. More is not always better. Thanks for asking the question.
It is absolutely appropriate to consider food wastage and socio-cultural practices in preparing Shabbat meals. What is Shabbat if not an opportunity to live at our highest and to evaluate our week’s work and or movement toward the week to come? What better way to say thank you to the Universe or Divine power or the planet than by consciously preparing sustainable, healthy meals for the day of rest.
Judaism is a diverse set of practices and beliefs and has evolved throughout the centuries. Our ability to adapt and change, based on cultural learnings, has helped Judaism thrive and helped Judaism find relevancy for its members and the larger world. Nothing Jewish started as Jewish. We have, like all religious communities, adapted the culture around us to fit our teachings and our style.
Soup with dumplings is European, bagels…Polish, the standard melody for Shema (our central creed, if we had a creed) comes from High German church organ music, and the whole style of public prayer in western modern Synagogues is modeled after European Protestant Christianity.
And then there is kashrut (keeping kosher). Eco-Kosher, developed through Reconstructionist Jewish teachers, has been around as a concept only for several decades, but its origins are biblical. Using the whole animal in the meal before leaving Egypt is part of our Passover story. Offering healthy fruits and animals for meal sacrifices is part of Levitical culture. And, raising herds without blemish (clean and healthy) is a mandate for offering them as sacrifices.
Maybe, if we were more conscious about our food choices for Shabbat and other holidays, and didn’t rely on cultural norms for food, that really only date back several hundred years or less, more people would be attracted to our Shabbat tables. With locally sourced, organic, healthy, and sustainable portions, everyone could eat at our table and we could teach about the gift of the bounty of the earth and the blessing of farmers and of those who cook the food we eat. We could teach about feeding the hungry and balance. We could remind people that Torah teaches real lessons for today as a living life text. And our food ethics would ultimately reinforce our beliefs. Imagine that Shabbat table!