Most of us have wasted food at one point or the other, knowingly or unknowingly. You might have taken a lot on your plate than you could consume and then the leftover ended up in trash. Out of love, you served a few bites more than your child could finish and then they left it. Some greens have been in the fridge for too long and before you could use them, they got spoiled.
You might think that we throw away food occasionally and the quantity is too less, but do you know, there is a significant amount of food waste generated in our homes. According to Food Waste Index Report 2021, around 50 kg of food is thrown away per person every year in Indian homes. Shocking right!! This has been an ongoing problem for decades which is just increasing with time. It was only when Covid-19 pandemic hit us that we understood the importance of it all when during the lockdown procuring vegetables and groceries got difficult.
Getting food to your plate is also a lengthy process. Food is grown, processed, packaged, transported, marketed and finally sold. Food also gets wasted during this process. For example, some pests attack the crop or the crop is damaged during transport or it gets spoiled sitting on the aisle at the supermarket because nobody bought it. All that gets dumped too. During the lockdown phase, farmers lost most of its crop to dump as they were not able to bring it to the market.
What happens to all this food that is being spoiled or wasted? All that goes into landfills and rots. As it rots, it produces a greenhouse gas called methane. Greenhouse gases are present in the Earth’s atmosphere. When sunlight hits the Earth surface, it reflects back into space but some of it turns into heat and is supposed to reflect back as well. Greenhouse gases like water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, prevent the heat from escaping into space and thus warming the planet thus affecting our climate.
Food wastage also heavily contributes to emission of greenhouse gases and each one of us who has thrown away even a spoonful of leftover food or let a vegetable/fruit spoil away in the refrigerator is responsible for it. Meat and dairy products have much higher emissions than fruits and vegetables. We tend to take our food for granted and that needs to change.
We need to curb the greenhouse gases emission and reducing food wastage is the easy fix that can de done right away in our homes.
1.Buy the food you need just for 2-3 days so they don’t spoil and we throw away less.
2. A little imperfection in appearance of fruits should also be accepted so that it does get spoiled away with the seller itself and get thrown away. Consider making smoothies or jams with them. Use them in your baking or blending dishes.
3. Make sure to store all the food products in a proper way in the refrigerators and air-tight containers so they stay fresh for longer and are not rotten and eventually dumped. Make proper use of the freezer section to store meat products to increase at their shelf life.
4. The peels, shoots and roots of fruits and vegetables can be composted for your home garden. It makes a great DIY project for adults and a wonderful way of learning for kids.
5. Another way of using roots and shoots is to make vegetable broth out of it or use them in the main dish itself. For example, gobhi danthal sabzi from Punjab uses cauliflower stalks and Bengali ucche pata bora are bhajjias/fritters made out of bitter gourd leaves.
6. Instead of planning a delicacy out of the blue, it is always better to plan in advance and make meals with ingredients already available in your refrigerator. Planning meals for a few days or a week also helps a lot.
7. Portion control. Take one serving of food that you are sure to finish. Go for a second serving if needed. Make sure to do that with your kids as well.
8. Leftovers should not be thrown away. Use the leftover vegetable to make cutlets or parathas. Dal paratha also tastes really well. Leftover rotis/chapatis make an excellent rolls with just an addition of egg and some flavoring sauces.
9. The food scraps that cannot be eaten can be fed to animals nearby.
10. If going to restaurants, make sure to take-away the leftovers and either bring them home or give it away to the needy and make sure they don’t sleep another night on an empty stomach. Great of you could add in another dish onto it and not just leftovers.
11. Talk to the community around you and share the knowledge. Awareness is the first big step!
Take small steps like these and you will make a difference. Small changes will yield big results with time.
This post is part of Blogchatter’s campaign CauseAChatter.