Don’t Waste Food!

Most of us belong to prosperous families where managing two square meals of a day is never a problem. All our needs are very well-catered by our parents and sometimes, even to the extent of spoiling us and turning us into brats. At home, our mothers take care of preparing the kind of food for us which we always relish.

There are times when we tend to order ‘pizzas’ or other fancy eatables on phone despite the fact that there is ample food already made available to us at home. Most of the times, even our parents do not seem to be bothered about our tendency to waste food.

But the other day, when an e-mail was circulated among all my friends, I really was forced to think about those who are accustomed to sleep hungry at night; about those who are quite used to feed on the left over of others; about those who beg from street to street to get money to buy something to eat; about those who search dustbins everyday to try their luck if they could find something to eat in it; about the ones who wait outside temples, mosques, gurudwaras, restaurants and hotels to get something from their visitors; about the roadside dwellers, orphans, garbage-pickers, beggars, paupers, hapless homeless wanderers, sufferers of naturals disasters, droughts or famines and the likes who are not sufficiently provided with something to eat. Their sad, dull, yet hopeful faces gave a diseased image of the society in which we live and also could easily arouse sympathy in the hearts of anyone who goes through the whole mail properly.

But thankfully, unlike other news and portrayals of such alarming situations, this e-mail was a bit different in its approach. It did show the sufferings of so many less-fortunate ones but did not, unintentionally, blur anyone’s constructive thinking by focusing too much on the emotional aspect of the story. It presented everyone with a wonderful solution too. And the solution was that if a lot of food is left over after any function, ceremony, feast or occasion celebrated in any part of India, then one can call on 1098 to ask the concerned people to come to a particular address and pack the food which may nourish many poor children. Not only is it a wonderful way of helping many destitute but was also a way by which one could prevent food from being wasted.

Last year, rising food prices drove poor to eat even mud in Port-au-Prince, Haiti- the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. Newspapers, all over the world, circulated many pictures of the victims of the price-rise in Haiti. Despite of knowing the fact that mud contains toxin or parasite that can be fatal, the poor in Haiti were forced to continue with the life of the soggy dried soil. This situation forced them to take steps which anyone like us can not even imagine.

The living standard of the people in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan is very low and due to scarcity of water, agriculture does not flourish well in that region. There have been times when the drought and famine affected people were forced to eat the bark of a tree which has an astringent bitter taste. So be grateful to your providers, if this current day you still have enough food for meal. Believe me, in every situation, you have more than enough.

Usually, most of the Sunday newspapers are full of news which is lengthy, less informative and gossipy too. But this Sunday, I read an article with somewhat similar concern. It titled- “IT’S ‘FINE’ IF YOU WASTE”. Here, the word ‘fine’ suggested the money which a restaurateur could ask the customer to pay on wasting the ordered food. WAFU is a restaurant in Australia which has introduced a policy whereby customers are supposed to eat everything on their plates ‘for the sake of the earth’. Not just that but the restaurant also offers its meal-finishers a 30 per cent discount.

But implementing the same rule in India is not at all feasible. Going by the way we-the Indians are, the reaction to such a rule would be extremely unfavorable. In fact, such incentives can stop people in this country to visit the same restaurant again if they ever are fined. Well, the government of India would definitely find it difficult to enforce such a rule all over the country but Indians can, of course, learn a lesson from it.

It’s true that fining is not the answer. It would be much better to serve alternative portions as per requirement rather than penalize customers. Making people aware about the hazards of wastage might be a solution to the problem of wasting food.

In Japan, the attending staff of any restaurant, habitually, packs the left over meals with the customers who order for it but can not finish it up. So, don’t think that it’s an idea too cheap to be implemented by anyone of us but just start practicing it. If you get to go to a restaurant and some food is left over after you satisfy your appetite, just get it packed.

Children from an early age can be taught not to waste food served on their platter. Too much meal should not be taken on our plate if we are not sure of finishing it up. Freshly left over food can be given to beggars or to those who come to our home asking for it. One should never throw away past ripe fruits and veggies. They can either be used for preparing a smoothie right then or frozen and used later. Other ways of preventing food from being wasted also can be thought about and implemented to help getting sufficient food for everyone.

Finally. just remember just one thing- wasting food does not mean being well-mannered. Nor does it in any way symbolise a luxurious living.

Aditi Swami

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