DON’T BITE OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW
Despite millions of Indians going to bed on a hungry stomach, the country is letting food worth a whopping Rs 44,000 crore go waste each year due to lack of adequate storage infrastructure. According to a report by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 40% of the food goes uneaten in the US, whereas in Asia, India and China cause a loss 1.3 billion tons of food wastage every year. In terms of overall food waste, agricultural produce, poultry and milk – India ranks seventh, with the Russian Federation at the top of the list.
Apart from the wastage of the food produced, the resources lost in the form of inputs during food production are also considerable. For instance, 25% of fresh water, used to produce food, is ultimately wasted, even as millions of people still don’t have access to drinking water. In addition, approximately 45% of India’s land is degraded primarily due to deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, and excessive groundwater extraction to meet the food demand.
LOVE FOOD, HATE WASTE
Besides this, nearly300 million barrels of oil used to produce food is also ultimately wasted. Taking all of it into consideration, the actual worth of money per year in India from food wastage is estimated at a whopping Rs. 58,000 crore.
Meat accounts for just 4% of the food wastage but contributes 20% in the economic cost of the wastage. Wastage of vegetables and fruits is 70% of the total produce, but it translated into only 40% of the economic losses. Also, rice crop emits methane, a potent global warming gas, because of the decomposition of organic matter in submerged paddy fields. Therefore, its wastage means bigger environmental impact.
Main reason behind this is inappropriate supply chain management and lack of basic facility to store the foods. As per a survey by IIM Kolkata, only 10% foods get cold storage facility in India. Though Indian government is proactively working to tackle the situation then also it is a huge challenge for a country like India to waste so much of food when many people is spending days in poverty and hunger.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
India should also take a cue from global practices that are both unorthodox and innovative in order to tackle food wastage problem. For instance, France has passed unanimous legislation requiring supermarkets to either give unsold food to charity or send it to farmers for use as feed and fertilizer.
Similarly, institutions in Canada are recovering unused and unspoiled food from retailers, manufacturers, restaurants and caterers and sending them to charities, in the process delivering ingredients for over 22,000 meals daily. These powerful initiatives have made a big difference in how these countries have approached a vexing issue.
India must make it mandatory for the food retailers across the country to adopt technology standards that allow incentives for the customer to purchase perishable products that are approaching their expiration dates. This will help reduce food wastage, maximizes grocery retailer revenue, and effectively reduces the global carbon footprint.
- Between 1990-2005, the number of hungry people in India has increased by 65 million. This figure is more than the entire population of France.
- A child dies approximately every five seconds as a result of hunger and malnutrition.
- Hunger and malnutrition took the lives of about 7 million children in 2012.
- 20 crore Indians go to sleep hungry on any given night, according to a survey conducted by ‘Bhook’ in 2013.
- 300 million barrels of oil are used to produce food that ultimately gets wasted.
- Food wastage generates 3.3 billion metric tons of CO2, which accelerates global climate change.
Hence, it is quite evident from the above facts that food wastage not only leaves hungry people behind but also affects the nation’s economy and environment at a macro level as well.
- Make finishing the food on your plate a habit. Try to inculcate it further in as many people around you as you can.
- Respect food. Consider yourself lucky for getting it every day. Make sure to thank God before you begin eating.
- Try to feel or imagine what it’s like to truly starve. I guarantee that you’ll forever think twice before wasting food.
It is said that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. For us, wasting food is normal but for someone who hasn’t eaten anything for the past few days, it’s a treasure. By wasting food we are not only playing around with their lives but we are also depleting our own environment. Hence, in every way, it is a true menace to society. Being responsible citizens, it is our responsibility to act more proactively and minimize food wastage. Alone, we can still do a bit. But together, we can bring a huge change and make the world a better place to live.