Food waste or loss occurs not only at the end of the food chain, as in waste of cooked food, but also at the time of production, transport and storage. Food waste is as much a problem in India as it is worldwide. India constitutes the second largest population in the entire world. According to FAO studies, it is estimated that nearly 191 million people in India are undernourished and this translates to roughly 14.5% of the country’s population. This is alarming indeed.In addition to this depressing statistic, UN studies also indicate that over 40% of the food produced in our country is wasted. The food waste costs India one lakh crore rupees every year. This is a big number.
How food is wasted
Food waste occurs at all levels: from when it is harvested to when it is consumed in the cooked form. It is purported that a major portion of food is wasted before it is packaged for consumption. This is believed to happen because of inefficient methods of storage and transport of food materials. Restaurants, weddings, hostels, etc., are major source points where cooked food is wasted in large amounts. While this happens on a regular basis, what is even more regular is that some of the poorest people are able to lay their hands on a complete meal in a day only if they are lucky.
How food wastage can be reduced
It is imperative that this waste at each of the levels has to be controlled: production, transportation, storage, processing, packaging and consumption. The government has started to work on this problem with the aim of solving it. As far as containing the waste before packaging the food is concerned, only more advanced technological methods can help. To reduce wastage of cooked food, many organizations have now come up that have taken the responsibility to collect the excess cooked food and redistribute it to the needy. However, there is no organized method with which this is done. A good number of people in the country still go hungry every day.Wastage of cooked food can be contained by depositing excess food at specific shelters run by the government. Poor people can help themselves to the food that is kept here. The food may be provided free or at subsidized rates. This will ensure that the food will reach those who really want it.
Is this enough ?
While all of these methods may help to curb wastage of food, nothing is more effective than when every individual citizen is involved. Every person should see to it that they do not produce excess food. When eating food, serve only as much as you can consume. Any excess is a waste. Re-use food as much as possible. Compost the food that cannot be reused. Avoid excess purchase of raw materials from the grocer’s stores. At the end of it all, it is important to remember that every grain of food matters, raw or cooked.