Food for thought
We all love food, don’t we? As soon as we enter a restaurant, the first thing that comes to our mind is the “food”. We run to take stock of what is on the menu and wait eagerly to lay our hands on all the mouth watering delicacies.
We start filling our plates with all the delicacies, as if we have come from “food inspection department”. We proudly add to the stock and quip to ourselves.
The amount of food ordered is never equal to the tiny tummy we all own. Hence, we see a huge amount of food being left over in the bowls which directly goes to the trash bin. This is the story of every ‘’foodie’’ in India.
Bigger the group of people going to a restaurant more is the wastage. Not just this, social and family functions like weddings, kitty parties contribute significantly to the wastage, and not to forget canteens, hotels, and above all households.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), up to 40 per cent of the food produced in India is wasted. This includes food wasted both at farm level due to poor storage facilities and also food which is wasted at households, restaurants, canteens, weddings etc.
It is said that India wastes as much food as is consumed by the entire United Kingdom. This is not a matter of pride. Due to our cavalier attitude, we waste a lot of food which could have been used to feed the hungry and the poor. Half of our children are malnourished and underweight.
So what can we do to reduce food wastage?
As an individual, we should pledge to say no to wasting food. First and the only rule we should obey is, ‘’know your stomach’’- Order the exact amount which you can finish without wasting. It is certainly a difficult task to choose from a whole array of goodies from your favourite restaurant. But, you have to choose wisely.
On the other hand, the restaurant owners too, have a major role to play to reduce wastage of food. Excess food from restaurants should not be dumped into garbage bins rather it should reach the poor and needy.
Restaurants in collaboration with NGOs have drawn up an elaborate food donation campaign, aiming at preventing wastage of food and allowing people to donate to feed the poor.
Food wastage is not a national concern but a global issue. France has become the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, forcing them instead to donate it to charities and food banks.
Whereas, In England, a Chinese restaurant fines diners who leave food on their plates. In India, there is no such initiative to prevent wastage. In total around 20 crore Indians sleep hungry every night.
A developed India is a distant dream if our people are undernourished because proper nutrition leads to good health and better cognition. Better cognition leads to better learning abilities ultimately leading to a skilful human resource.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently celebrated two years of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. Taking a broom should not be the only way to celebrate; rather adopting food management should be also taken just as seriously. By taking a few simple steps to waste less and recycle more, and by working out the cost of food waste to the business, hotels can reap financial as well as environmental benefits.
Hotels often say they waste very little food as the plates generally come back clean. However, food waste comes from a variety of sources like spoiled or out of date food; Peelings & trimmings etc.
‘’India Food Banking Network’’ (IFBN), ‘’Feeding India’’ are some of the Delhi- based organisations that have tie- ups with hotels and restaurants to reduce food wastage. Many philanthropists also chipped in with time and money so that the disadvantaged sections get access to food.
As leftover food turned out to be a grave concern and many NGOs pledged to take this initiative wholeheartedly.
The food reaches children in constructions sites, truck drivers, and slum dwellers.
This initiative is really commendable but the question arises about the nutrition value of such ‘leftover food’. The more kids are exposed to such food; the health concerns remain.
The only solution to this problem is if each hotel or big restaurant in the city serves fresh food daily at a school in a poor neighbourhood or a home for the destitute, it can make a real difference to the quality of nutrition.