Malla Jameel Ahmed
FOOD WASTAGE is a burning issue and we are all responsible and when addressed collectively will get rid of it.
Every year around the globe 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted, that is 1/3 of all food produced for human consumption. Food losses represent a waste of resources used in production such as land, water, energy and inputs.
The losses incurred in developing countries are mainly due to infrastructural constrains related to poor transport, storage, processing and packaging facilities in addition to capacity gaps that result in in-efficient productions.
Our kashmir valley is no exception to the same and is equally fairing in its share of food wastage which comprises of 20-22% of the total waste generated. The quantity of the wastage of food in the land which otherwise takes it a bad thing and a sinful act needs a reprimand to explain the same. If the point of wastage of food is deeply observed at a local level, certain reasons can be attributed to the same.
Kashmir valley is surrounded by mountains and the roads leading to this paradise are full of excitement but with lot of hardships also. The vehicles carrying the food always has to tread these hilly ranges to reach to the Kashmir valley and on a way, the significant amount of food gets wasted even some getting rotted. The problem becomes more persistent in winters, when the heavy snowfall results in avalanches or others completely blockading this age old road which ultimately leads to the perishing of all the items ferried in the stranded vehicles.
Lot of raw food (mainly rice) also gets wasted during the transportation from main godowns to public distribution shops. The wastage may be miniscule but rightly finds its way in one of the factors of food wastage.
In Kashmir valley, the storage of food is a big problem. The vegetable, fruit and cereal growers does not possess the knowledge regarding the storage of food and various means to increase the shelf life. Resultantly, lot of vegetable & fruit markets can be seen piled up with the waste of vegetable & fruit waste which get decomposed/putrefied due to improper storage. The cereal mainly rice which is distributed in government run fixed price shops are engulfed with rodents and other insects making it highly susceptible for human consumption.
Consumerism not only led to stalling of minds of people but also led to increase in concentration of the stale food. The increasing in income of the common people has led to the increase in their spending, but in the course of time, people have lost their ability to identify as to which item at what quantity will be useful to them. People spending without any logic on an easily avoidable things has added more to the problem of wastage and if taken the said narrative for the food, it will not be wrong to say, it is one of the factors for food wastage.
Big fat weddings
In Kashmir, the biggest sources of food wastage are the weddings as the quantum of preparation of food is in itself humungous which is bound to get wasted. Kashmiris are by nature known to spend lavishly on wedding. The extra food has been prepared to make sure everyone is well fed which at the end of weddings or function ultimately finds its way in the river streams, dust bins, road corners and many conspicuous places easily accessible to dogs and other animals but deprived to the social animal. Throwing a food which is otherwise consumable clearly shows the ignorance for the oblivious reasons as maximum people do not know what to do with such kind of excess food.
Most common & Easy ways to reduce the food wastage which everyone can implement in their daily life as the saying goes “great things are done by a series of small things brought together”
Plan your meals in advance so that you will avoid buying items of no need.
First utilize what is already available at home.
Dont go for a shopping empty stomach as it will incite you to buy more and more as the psychologically our brain perceives everything important even if it is not so.
Choose quality over quantity and try to enjoy your meals by eating slowly
Cook only according to your need.
Store food better as correct storage can add days, weeks and even months to the foods. Make sure dry goods are stored in air tight containers to avoid moisture and weevils, freeze leftovers and don’t store all the fruit and vegetables in the fridge as sometimes it will make them deteriorate quicker
Leftovers shall be used judiciously instead of throwing them away.
Freeze for later use
One can use leftovers to be converted into compost.
Preserve seasonal produce,
The significant waste occurs at consumption stage. It is better not to make wasting a way of life. Many people hardly manage a single meal a day and there are still lot of poor people who out of societal fear don’t acknowledge such condition. Hunger is still one of the most urgent development challenges and hunger is global issue , even after the world is producing more than enough food, but the wastage plays a spoilsport.
(Malla Jameel Ahmed is a government employee and is working is Govt. Dental College & Hospital, Srinagar.)