The government has done its part. They are planning to set up food processing industries and cold chains by mapping the surplus and deficit areas gap, which would mean that annual loss of vegetables, fruits and grains worth more than INR 44,000 crore will be taken care of. This would also address the grave concern of food inflation and scarcity of food for poor by assuring that 18 percent of fruits and vegetables which are produced in the country are saved from wastage. This is, however, one part of the story where we can expect the law-makers to come up with solutions. Plates, burdened with distinct foods, are a normal scene at ceremonies, and so is the garbage can filled with leftover food. Hunger, in case you are unaware, is the primary cause of death in the world followed by AIDS and Cancer etc. I have learned from a source that almost 20 crore Indians sleep hungry every day and indeed a shame on this developing nation is that lakhs of Indians die of hunger every year. Has any GDP growth or banks interest rates decline helped these sufferers? 79 percent of children aged 6-35 months and 56 percent of married women are anemic, and half of our little ones are underweight.
During a weight checkup in one of the districts in Madhya Pradesh, a two-year old girl, Rajni, who was placed unclothed on the electronic scale weighed just half of what she should have been. It was reported that the children checked were listless and sick, and had less chances to survive, and even if they do, they would grow up weaker, shorter and ugly when compared with their better fed peers. Isn’t this the social divide that we realize for underprivileged households, but the same commences right from birth and is more or less overlooked. And the kids of the rich are flooded with nutrition and other perks that can be adequate for feeding five kids of the poor. This is a barefaced truth of Indian society and economy, and is much more pressing than even jobs and lessons. Is it just the work of NGOs and social activists to care for those who are deprived of basic needs? Then know that we are the ones exaggerating the misery of the cluster by filling our waste bins with prepared food and advising a poor child to look for job than to beg. And those supporting by way of handing over cash to kids are pushing them to greater complications, just look at the stats for children involved in drug-addiction and fights.
Are we so hungry that we over-fill our plates and order recklessly at restaurants? Ok, I have that money to afford such luxuries at hotels and at ceremonies I am not alone, everyone does this. And while showing off my assets, why should I bother about loss of food or money? Why should I make an attempt to visit a shunned place and handover any surplus food I have to those in need. As far as social responsibility is concerned, I pay my part to the government in form of taxes, so why should I go that extra mile to save the most crucial asset, food? My child can have candies, milk, proteins and other luxuries because I worked hard for the same, then why should I care if he wastes half the milk or throws away a burger after a bite saying that it doesn’t taste that good this time? Ok, there is no legislation to punish those who waste food, so what is the need to care, right? Imagine a day when your business collapses or your organization sacks you and all such treats come to an abrupt end. I am sorry for this, but the thoughts even are so frightening, so think the pain of kids staring at bins for the leftover food.
Yes, solutions to curb food waste are uncomplicated to pursue, but not just advisory and environmental groups can be the contributory. A girl child is considered more like a debt, and we all know why, the curse of dowry and spending on marriage. The youth of today has considered the evil of dowry, but lavish and even that little but unaffordable spending on the ‘party’ thrown for hundreds still finds place. The buffet system, though allows access to extra, but the resulting is surplus waste. Shouldn’t this be put to end? But surplus food would still survive, even in reduced capacity. Feeding of food leftovers to animals, in particular dogs, chickens and birds is an unproblematic option. But let this be confined to that part which is unfit for consumption by human. Municipal collection is then an alternative, which is running in few areas, but can never beat individual labors aimed at ‘100 percent starvation eradication’. Rather than turning the surplus food to garbage, turn it to a blessing for someone. Plus, go for planned foodstuff purchasing and apposite storage of the same to reduce spoilage. As a planned measure, the food waste can also be biodegraded by way of composting and can be used to fertilize soil.
Authorities, in a stern voice, will have to convey to the people to order/ prepare food that isn’t afterwards wasted; yes, money belongs to the one spending, but resources belong to the society. Framing legislation for this purpose, by considering Food Waste Regulations in other countries, for instance Ireland, is a workable notion. The law, apart from considering the food wastage aspect, can embrace sections restricting restaurants and caterers from preparing bulk food in advance which subsequently is served for days by preserving the same in deep freezers. Plus, restaurants are to be fortified to charge fine on wasted food, with the money going for charity. The same will spread across a positive message. NGOs undertaking the work of carrying leftover food to those in need too need motivation and support from the state. By and large, it is evident that Indian soil is adequate to produce food grains for every Indian, without any need of importing, provided that the ones who can afford higher than required realize the vitality of food protection. Remember, alert purchasing doesn’t cost anything, rather earns you profit.
Here is a case that elucidates that ‘We’ create poverty, because we do not ‘share’. The shadow of God, Mother Teresa, was once on way to South America in an air plane, and just after the flight took off, the attendant came forward to serve meal. Mother asked if she could have the cost of that meal so as to help the poor with some money. She was allowed to take away USD 5 for the meal, and the same stirred a sense of morality in all passengers who too opted for money. Post landing, Mother asked if she take away the food as well and hand out to ones in need, since the airline would not serve unexploited food and would rather discard it. This was executed by help of trucks she managed to secure from TACA Airlines. Brave, isn’t it? Morality and aiding others demand courage, the same courage we use to prosper our family. Get up; tell yourself and all others that snacks, sweets and main-course meals at marriages, which collectively go as high as 200 in number, is nothing more than killing others, killing the ones who are helpless, helpless as we never work to help. Else, ask for a law which should bindingly limit the number of dishes served to less than 10 during such occasions. If we can unite for Jan Lokpal Bill, why can’t we for a Food Wastage Regulation?
As Indians, or shall I say Indians who study the lessons of Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi all during life, we will have to realize the call of morality and equality. Here is a motivating thought of Mother, ‘The very fact that God has placed a certain soul in your way is a sign that God wants you to do something for them’. Let me also tell you that it was Mother herself who drove that truck, though she was short and had to peep between the steering wheel and dashboard to see, but by God’s grace, managed to accomplish her duty, the duty conferred upon all of us. The Prime Minister has been sharing positive and nation-building thoughts via his initiative, ‘Mann Ki Baat’, and through the same platform, if he urges for ‘Love Food and Hate Waste’, Indian society will surely be blessed, besides saving on food inflation. To all the readers- Realize the significance of food today, to give the underprivileged a healthier tomorrow. Lesser you waste; more are the plates that will serve the hunger of the poor.