My day starts in the kitchen and ends in the kitchen. Cooking food, thinking about food, feeding the hungry family members and self is an everyday affair. Naturally, I have to have to go to the market, retail stores, malls to collect the varieties of food my family consumes every day. Recently, my small city has got a big retail store where we get all kinds of fruits and vegetables. It is a delight to visit the store and buy anything we want to have on our plate. The small backward city otherwise did not have many options as we were only getting the local fruits and vegetables. And sometimes facing the wrath of the local sellers who used to behave roughly with customers. Now, it is a kind of shopping freely, without thinking about bargaining or quality of the goods to be purchased. But, however, in all these, I found one thing which could provoke thought is the number of food items which could be wasted daily- whether in the local market or in these retail stores. Many of the times I have watched those about to rot items lying idle in the market without any takers. Neither the shopkeepers donate them or sell them at cheap prices nor anybody comes forward to avoid the waste. I used to gaze at them, think deeply and come back home. Now that, I am exposed to a much bigger shop but the scene remains the same. I regularly notice piles of vegetables and fruits with those patches on them, lying on the rack and asking me for help. I come back home in the same manner, with lots of thoughts in my mind!
The hard facts about food wastage I have learnt about recently are:
- About 1/3rd of food produced all over the world goes to waste.
- Total food wasted annually weigh 1.3 billion tonnes.
- Nearly one billion hungry people can be fed with less than a quarter of wasted food of USA, UK and Europe.
- An area larger than China is used to grow food which is never eaten.
- 25% of the world’s fresh water supply is used to grow food that is never eaten.
- Total food waste is the third largest source of greenhouse gases.
- In most developed countries half of the total food waste is generated at home.
- According to FAO estimates in ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the world, 2017’ report, 190.7 million people are undernourished in India. This represents 14.5% of the Indian population, which makes India, the home to the largest undernourished population in the world.
- In spite of this, it is estimated by the UN that nearly 40% of the food produced in India is wasted or lost. And this cost India one lakh crore rupees every year.
- Food wastage in India is happening at every level; from harvesting, transporting, processing, packaging and consuming.
- Weddings, Christmas, festivals celebrations, events, restaurants, hostels and houses are a major source for food wastage of cooked food in India and worldwide.
Five simple ways to stop food wastage:
- Start at home. Teach your children to eat clean i.e. no leftover on the plate. There is always a second serving.
- Buy what you really need, cook what you and your family members can finish without dumping in the refrigerator.
- Visit stores twice in a week so that you buy only those things you need. In case, you can’t, then rely on parcels or home delivery after your stored food is over.
- Use the leftovers wisely. Try new recipes. Make smoothies or milkshakes with leftover fruits.
- Try composting the food wastes. Advocate for composting and prevention of food wastage.
2.3 billion people are joining the planet by 2050. This will require a 60-70% increase in global food production. Or we can just stop throwing our food.