This year, The World Food Programme was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In doing so the hunger parity around the world has been brought into focus, and Hunger has been identified as a human right violation.
Importance of sustenance can only be defined by the people who are starving. We have enough and we assume everyone else also has enough, or the government is taking care of its citizen. In India, mostly 200 million people sleep hungry. Now you must think, “How does this concern me?”, it’s “we” who are responsible for food wastage. We create a demand for and consume food on a daily basis, by doing this we become active participants in the country’s food resource management.
Why Is Food Wasted?
The first question to arise is why is food even wasted. The answer although very simple may seem very appalling, food is wasted due to our carelessness. Think about it, when grocery shopping, we tend to buy more than we need. Some items are bought on a whim to be either tried or indulged in. It is basic human psychology to have more options available, even when we know deep down that we may never end up using or trying those options out. Having options brings a sense of security to us; knowing that we can avail these options when in need, very much like how insurance works. We pay insane insurance premiums on our homes, cars and possessions in the anticipation of some unforeseen circumstances that may require for us to be equipped with an insurance. Similarly, with food, we buy more than what we need just in case we may need it. Moreover when these purchases are brought home, we end up using only those items that we have need of on the regular basis.
Even our usage is biased, say you bought a jar of olives for a dinner date for two, you will only end of using a quarter of the olives in the jar; the remainder olives will be siting in the jar until you forget about them or they go bad. Instead you could plan to incorporate the remaining olives in different dishes throughout the week.
Sometimes improper storage also leads to unwanted food wastage, for example, an opened jar of mayonnaise is kept outside at room temperature instead of in the refrigerator. Or green leafy vegetables are stored stacked in the refrigerator without washing or cleaning on top of each other which will result in the veggies becoming slimy and bad hence unusable.
Another form of food wastage is consuming more than your body requires. Over-eating is a disease which leads to many physiological symptoms that are not good for the average human body.
Additionally on social occasions such as weddings and big event parties leftover food gets discarded straight into the dustbins, since more food is prepared for a buffet sitting as opposed to measured portions of a sit down dinner.
Things you can do to minimise food wastage
These are simple conscious things you can do on a daily basis to minimise your food wastage. Some of these practices call for a lifestyle change and to be more mindful of your decisions and actions regarding your consumption and purchasing habits.
Make a List: Before every grocery shopping make a list of all that you plan to buy, then sort these items as either necessary (Need Based) or less significant (Want Based). This should help you make conscious decisions about what you are buying for the need of sustenance and leading a healthy lifestyle as opposed to purchases you are making as an indulgence.
Meal Planning: Plan your meals on a weekly basis; know what you are going to cook (ingredients such as meat or vegetables), when you are going to cook (breakfast, lunch or dinner) and how you are going to cook (recipe). This practice will help you incorporate seasonal vegetables and fruits in your diet as well as help curb your spending on bulk buying only to see the items go bad or throw them away unused when the goods cross the expiry date.
Eat Fresh: Always eat what is fresh and in season, try consuming seasonal fruits and vegetables as fresh as they come instead of storing them in the refrigerator. This practice should also help you adopt a healthy eating habit as consuming stale food can be harmful to the human body.
Revamp Leftovers: While you are planning your weekly meals you could also accommodate any anticipated leftovers from previous meals into completely revamped dishes. Stale chapatis can become chewda or even crunchy tortillas. Rice could be sautéed a million different ways with a few ingredients to taste completely different. Veggies could be added to Dal (lentils) to make them more wholesome. Leftover salad could be added to beaten eggs to make an excellent omelet or frittata.
Donate Food: When you have a function and anticipate there is going to be left over food, then you could plan to donate the food after the event. There are NGO’s and local organisations who collect food, repackage and dispense it amongst the needy. You could make enquires and find out which organisations are operational near you.
Stay Mindful: Awareness begins from within, teach yourself first by practicing new methods and figure out what works best for you. When at home only serve what you need in your plate, if more food is needed then you would serve yourself more food later, this will help food being wasted directly from your plate. Even when going for a meal at a restaurant order only as much needed, you can always order more later if not sufficient. Incase of some leftovers, parcel it; have it the next day or give it to someone who are needy.
Planning is the key!
A little bit of foresight will go a long way in helping you identify, manage and minimise your food wastage. It is better to identify all the practices that you can practically do for yourself and then slowly incorporate them into your family’s routines. Hunger is a violation of basic human rights and it is up to us individually to contribute what little we can to help manage the limited food resource we have and share it more wholesomely with our fellow citizens.
16th of October is celebrated as ‘World Food Day’. Why not celebrate it everyday?
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