Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about how much food the western world wastes. According to a recent report appropriately titled “Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill,” just released by the Natural Resources Defense Council, about 40% of food in USA goes uneaten, yet 1 in 6 Americans go hungry. What’s wrong with this picture? Don’t even get me started on how many people in Asia and Africa starve to death!
This post on Just Eat It’s blog just made my jaw drop and the guilt of how much I contribute to this wastage has been gnawing at my conscience ever since. While becoming environmentally conscious and mindful in my actions has certainly helped me reduce food wastage over the past year or so, I still throw out wilted greens and expired products. In contemplating how I can reduce and preferably eliminate food waste from my home, I’ve been thinking about what would my Mom do.
P.S. I was inspired to think about what would Mom do by a blog post written by one of my favorite bloggers Kate from Walnuts & Pears on WWGD (What Would Grandma d0?). I strongly recommend checking that post out. Since I lost both my Grandmothers very early on in life and my parents grew up in modest households, I’m sure I could learn a thing or two about reducing waste from my parents.
My Mom grew up in a modest household with two siblings and had her fair share of household chores to help out with, one of which was helping prepare food. My grandfather was the only “full-time” earning member in the household and my grandmother did some tailoring on the side. With five mouths to feed in a relatively expensive city like Bombay (or Mumbai as you know it), there wasn’t much room to waste food. I remember Mom telling me that even the food scraps had a use in the household – they were fed to the cows as a religious offering.
Similarly, my Dad grew up in a small home among six other siblings with my Grand-dad (or Baba as we fondly refer to him) being the only earning member. In fact, this household had it tough as Baba had to leave his original home in Pakistan after the India-Pakistan partition and relocate in Bombay with his wife – my grandmother a.k.a Amma – and six kids (if you must know, my Dad was the last of the pack and the only one to be born in Bombay). So as you can see food wastage wasn’t an option here either.
Everytime I waste food, my father leaves no stone unturned to remind me that I am disrespecting the “food Gods” and that there are millions out there who haven’t received a single meal today. If you must know, Hindus have a God for everything :P. Yet, I roll my eyes at him and slide what’s left on my plate into the garbage.
All this to make just one point – we in the western world take food for granted, period. We believe we have too much of it. I say “believe” because if people are starving to death or going hungry in other parts of the world, then I am ashamed to admit that we have an abundance of food.
We somehow think that composting and putting food waste in “green bins” is helping this issue. It isn’t – it’s just a nice wrapper that we put to cover up our irresponsible act of wastage. The issue isn’t how food waste is being treated (yes, we have to be responsible in that area) but the issue is “why” are we wasting so much food. The solution isn’t sorting garbage and composting (albeit, this is important), the solution is reducing food waste.
I’ve decided to give this some thought and make a serious commitment toward reducing food waste, at least in my household. While I haven’t spoken to my parents about some tips just yet, I feel like I have a pretty good list to start this discussion off. So stay tuned as I write my next post on ways to reduce (and preferably eliminate) food waste. Meanwhile, if you (or your Mom, Grandma, Great-Grandma) have any ideas that you would like me to include in my next post, feel free to comment or email me at bhavna(at)bhavnahinduja(dot)com.
We used to throw out a lot of food. When I take the time to plan our meals, and then shop virtually nothing goes bad before we use it. We receive a box of veggies every week from a CSA. I wait to shop for the rest of the groceries until after I see what is in the box. I also take inventory before going on the next shopping trip. Are there potatoes in the pantry? Celery in the bin? An open container of vegetable broth? For us, it is all about planning.
Thanks for the tip! I can see how planning would help. I’ve never tried the virtual shopping myself – something to look into. The only issue I see myself having with that option is the carbon footprint involved in delivering the box. But definitely something worth checking out, particularly, when the farmers’ markets season comes to an end.
The CSA we use does not deliver to our doorstep. It is run by our local high school, which has a farm program and cultivates 1.5 acres for the CSA. They also partner with three other local farms. On pick up days, the farms deliver their produce to the high school and the boxes are assembled on the campus. People go to the high school for pick – up, so not much different than a farmers’ market. 🙂
Aaah – that makes so much more sense. too bad we don’t have such a service in Toronto 😦 I’d go and pick up a box of farm goodies from a local high school. The service we have here is one that delivers to our doorstep.