Think.Eat.Save @ Patna


The theme for 2013 World's Environment Day is "Think. Eat. Save". It is a unique campaign that is against food waste and food loss, and encourages billions around the globe to reduce their food-print. The food wastage across the world has been ever increasing and as per the recent estimate, there is wastage of 1.3 billion tons of food every year. This amount looks horrible when faced with another distorting fact that more than 20,000 children under the age of five die from hunger every day. One in every seven people on this planet go to bed hungry.

These fact, though very much convincing, are ignored by most of us considering it 'other region' issue. We fail to acknowledge that these report are world wide and our region is also very much represented in these figures. Do Patnaites wastes food ? On the surface, most will disagree. Some will also give explanation of poorer state- less food availability concept. But the truth remains as transparent as ever. The Indian marriages are considered most lavish and extravagant and so is true about our region also. Every year, thousands of marriage and related function like reception, tilak etc. takes place. Sometimes, hundred of marriage happens to occur on a single day. The normal tendency among the people on organizing side is to cook more food on such occasions than required to avoid any unpleasant situation at the end.  The normal tendency among the people who are eating is to fill up their plate to the fullest - not a single portion of the plate is to be left empty !! However, most of the people fails to eat what they have taken in their plate - courtesy the numerous items on the menu list. We hardly care about the food in the plate before putting it in the dustbin. The more the item on the list, the more is the wastage of food.

On every such occasion, roughly 10% foods ends up as "un-eaten". As most of the marriages happens to occur during the summer month, their chances of perishing increase many fold. By the late morning, the food becomes stale, and most of the remaining 10% ends up in garbage dumps. This is a huge wastage of food, considering the number of people who went to bed hungry on the previous night. People have tendency to considered the wastage as their personal loss. It is true, however, it is the community at large who has suffered the most. What can be the solution ? On one side, their is social stigma on food shortage at such occasions, on the other side their is wastage of food on surplus. Their can not be outright solution in this regard. However, the following can help in minimizing the food wastage :

  • There is need to raise awareness among the people to take only that much amount which they are capable of eating on such occasions. Taking too much at one one go and unable to eat in the last will only lead to food wastage. Tendency of over eating and free-riding must be shelved at the earliest.
  • The organizing party must try to limit the number of items on the menu. More item invariable leads to more food wastage. They should also not try to cook all the items in one go. Incremental approach can be implemented.
  • No one can be accurate enough. There is bound to be food wastage. However, one can minimize the actual food wastage if he takes care of the remaining food. These remaining foods can be distributed among the poor,beggars, house less etc. in the early morning. By taking simple steps, the cooked food can be preserved to stay fresh for 12 hours or so. One is always aware of where to find these kind of people.
  • Since most of the functions are now being held in hotels, therefore hotel owner should be aware of proper use of the waste food.

These step looks tough, but once undertaken they become easy. In certain cities, these are already being implemented by the collaboration of volunteers, NGOs, hotel-owners and individual members. In Mumbai, the famed Dabbawallas's campaign "Share my Dabba" of the unused cooked food has resulted in to feeding of 200,000 hungry children in Mumbai alone, which would otherwise have gone to bed hungry. The resources of the nature are limited, and its best to judiciously use the food we get, rather than wasting food unwisely.

[June 2013]