Food loss and food waste are becoming increasingly important issues as the world’s populations grows and as pressure on agricultural land and other resources increase. There are many environmental, health and nutrition issue created by Food Waste:
Did you know ?
INDIANS waste as much food as the whole of United Kingdom consumes – a statistic that may not so much indicative of our love of surfeit, as it is of our population. Still, food wastage is an alarming issue in India. Our street and garbage bins, landfills have sufficient proof to prove it.
About 21 million tonnes of wheat are wasted in India and 50% of all food across the world meets the same fate and never reaches the needy. In fact, according to the agriculture ministry, Rs. 50,000 crore worth of food produced is wasted every year in the country.
Why is food wastage a problem?
- 25% of fresh water used to produce food is ultimately wasted, even as millions of people still don’t have access to drinking water. When you calculate the figures in cubic kilometers, this is a bit more than an average river.
- 300 million barrels of oil are used to produce food that is ultimately wasted.
- According to a survey by Bhook (an organization working towards reducing hunger) in 2013, 20 crore Indians sleep hungry on any given night. About 7 million children died in 2012 because of hunger/malnutrition.
Only government policies are not responsible for the problems we are facing today, but our culture and traditions are also playing a lead role in this drama. In India, the bigger the wedding, the larger the party and the more colossal the waste.
Here’s what one can do on a more personal level to contain the food wastage:
- Plan out your meal and make your shopping list to determine what you actually need for the week. About 20% of what we buy in urban India ends up being thrown away. You could in the week after cut down on the surplus and soon in two or three weeks you will have a precise list of your family’s weekly consumption. You have no idea how amazed you will be at how much you buy and what you actually consume. Needless to say that the difference is but naturally wasted.
- Buy in quantities you can realistically use. Avoid impulse buys. It will more or less find the bin.
- If you cook at home, make sure you cook keeping in mind there is no excess. You can always complete your meals with a few fruits rather than keep some extra food in the refrigerator. It’s a lot better and a healthier practice too.
- Select according to their shelf life. Use the green vegetables first. Don’t throw out fruits and veggies with ‘aesthetic only’ blemishes. Use canned and bottled food before expiry dates.
- Reuse the refrigerated left-overs (if any) for the very next meal.
- Even if food gets spoilt then compost it.
- If you work in an office that has a canteen, check with them on how they manage excess food. Cooked food, especially since it has a low shelf life needs to be managed better and faster. Check with NGOs who offer to transport excess food to the needy.
- If you host a family get together either at home, a marriage hall or throw a party at a hotel, make sure you plan for the food to be transported to a place like an orphanage or an old age shelter.
- Make finishing your plate a habit. Try to inculcate it further to as many possible.