Love food and hate waste - say no to the food waste

Love food and hate waste - say no to the food waste

My friends love Indian food. None of them belongs to India but they crave for butter chicken, curry, chai tea (as foreigners call it). Of course, it is our food that makes us special in the world. Indian food, famous for its spices which contribute to 70% of the total world spices, are famous and widely used by people worldwide.

Do you know that 195 million people of the same country sleep hungry every day?

This number is alarmingly increasing everyday. The world produces enough food to feed its whole population twice but still we have so many people going hungry every day. About one-third of the total food produced in the world is wasted which costs around $750 billion (according to Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation Report). Food production is not the main issue for chronic food insecurity in India. It produces enough food to feed the growing population.

The shocking thing is, the high proportion of the food produced sometimes doesn't reach the consumers.

India, alone, wastes as much food as the whole of United Kingdom consumes. If this statistic is not shocking enough, another one which says that India wastes more food than China in Asia, cannot be ignored at all.

An estimated 21 million tons of wheat is wasted in India in one year which is the same amount of wheat produced by Australia in a year.

The Global Hunger Index (GHI)  measures and tracks hunger globally, regionally and by country. The higher the score, the hunger situation is worse and lower the rank. India ranks 55 out of 76 countries which is still better than the last rank of 63. The neighbouring countries like SriLanka (39), Nepal (44) and Bangladesh (49) still rank better than India where hunger is considered a curse too.

Another infographic by Rick Westhead showing major food wastage in India:

Reasons of food waste

The main reasons of food wastage in India are poor storage, poor transportation and poor management. The poor storage facilities account for food to be eaten by insects or it rots in the open grounds in the worst weather conditions which makes it inedible. There are only a few cold-storages in India which can store only 10% of the perishable food leaving 370 million tons of perishable food at stake. Lack of electricity which also doesn't let food items to refrigerate properly also accounts for that food to be wasted. Poor management and ever growing corruption in the food departments make it worse. 

india's grain drain
India's large Grain Drain

Effects of food waste

  1.  The amount of fresh water needed to cook food every year in India, which is ultimately wasted, is about 230 cubic kilometres. This is over the quarter of the global total. Coming from a country where many people do not have access to the fresh drinking water, these figures are deeply heart breaking.
  2. In a country where food worth Rs 58,000 crore is wasted every year (40% of the total production), 3000 children die everyday because of hunger and malnutrition.
  3. 37%-80% of rice is wasted in Southeast Asia every year. The rice crop emits methane which is a global warming gas. Therefore, the more the wastage, the bigger is the environmental impact.
  4. A large part of land in India is used to grow food crops. The farmers end up taking loans to grow better quality crops with better techniques and fertilizers in their fields. Some even commit suicide when they are unable to pay it back. It is unfortunate that the food produced by them is ultimately wasted on a large scale and they didn't even live up to feed their families. 

Solutions on a personal level

Charity begins at home. Before asking other people or blaming governments for not taking proper measures to control the food waste, we must control the food wastage at our homes.
Some steps we can take to avoid food waste on our ends:

  1. Make a shopping list of grocery items and plan your meals for the week. Most of the times we do not end up eating everything we buy which ultimately, is thrown away.
  2. Try to make small plate for yourself instead of filling it to the brim. You can always have more but there is no other solution to the filled plate when you can't eat more except dumping the rest of the food in the dustbin. If you are going to weddings, functions, social parties etc, this trick works a lot.
  3. In the smart world with smart phones or gadgets, have a smart app to remind you of the expiry dates of the food items so that you don't have to throw it away when it is expired and you can consume it before it expires. 
  4. It never hurts to eat the leftover food the next day.
  5. If you have a wedding or any other function at home, you'll definitely have a lot of leftover food. Instead of throwing it away, try finding a place nearby where you can deliver food to the poor and the needy. Some organisations like Feeding India works towards rescuing excess food and utilizing it for efficiently.
  6. There is a solution to leftovers, you can always freeze them and reuse them later. Bruised fruits can be blended in smoothies.
  7. There is nothing better than cooking at home and if you cook not in excess, that makes you waste less.
  8. The best habit to practice - don't leave leftover in your plate.

The governments in the recent years have tried to increase the total production of the food to look better on the overall ranking of Global Hunger Index but there is no such decrease in food wastage happening around the whole country.

In a few years, when India will not have enough arable land for farming, how would she feed her children?