Now I know some of your jaws are ready to hit the ground doing by the title, but we need to understand why reselling food waste, or even donating, is actually not such a bad idea. I do not wish for any of my fellow Indians to die of food poisoning en masse, that might be good for population control but well, I am no female Hitler reincarnate. Yet.
Did you know that Norway has come up with an innovative way to solve the Food Crises and wastage by reselling waste food from restaurants and other outlets to its own people? Yep, let me tell you how, and why.
One-ninth of the world still suffers from starvation. You don’t have to do much mental math to realize that it is indeed a lot. Despite the staggering numbers of people who suffer from hunger, the world wastes a lot of food.
Do you want a number?
About one-third of the food that is produced is wasted. That half a sandwich that you just tossed into the bin counts too. And all this food that is waste find it’s way into landfills that contribute to up to 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
In third world countries like India, the chief cause of food waste is the lack of provisions to store or transport food. In a study conducted by Ciphet, the farm ministry’s harvest-research body, it was estimated that food that is worth almost Rs 92,000 crores were wasted every year- that’s almost two-third of the subsidy that the government pays to keep the people below the poverty line from starving. Close to 30% of the total agricultural land produces food that is never eaten!
If it wasn’t going to be any further bleaker, a 2015 study by the UN had declared that even if humanity cut down food wastage by a quarter, we would have enough food to feed all people who are malnutritioned.
The Possible Solutions
We need to understand the immediacy of this problem and resolve to do something about it. Too many people die of hunger while an average household throws out almost one-fourth of the food it buys in a month without being aware of the consequences. And this cannot go on.
Recently, a very interesting piece of news crossed my newsfeed that prompted me to do this story. Norway has cut down on it’s food waste by almost a quarter by building a social network, like through this one phone app called Good To Go, where more and more restaurants and other food outlets are selling off the food that their diners no longer want at the end of the day. It’s not food that has been disposed or rejected, rather food that has been left uneaten by the closing hours. Buffet restaurants dispose off the maximum amount of leftover food that has not yet gone stale, and people are gladly lining up at the restaurants back-doors to take home the crumbs.
You may cringe but well, it’s quite win-win.
The businesses are not running into losses and it’s pretty noble to be thoughtful about the leftovers. The more logical thing is definitely to donate, but well in this scenario, people are willing to pay.
Some time back France had come up with an interesting law that prohibited the French supermarkets from wasting food and instead directed them to donate the food that was going to be wasted. In India too, there is a budding network or NGOs who seek to distribute the waste food leftovers from big functions or hotels in slum areas. This system of sharing food needs to be made the casual norm because when even a kilo of rice is thrown away we’re at least disposing of 1,300 liters water alone that have been spent to produce it.
Some supermarkets in Europe have also taken to selling food in smaller portions, selling food in supermarkets close to expiry dates or sell-by dates. Dumpster diving is becoming a thing! While nobody would really survive if they literally ate off a dumpster in India, and a homeless people do die of poisoning like that, the idea that food waste can have a longer span than considered is definitely something to reconsider. If we are leading a wasteful life, we should stop it, it’s a matter of shame that dumpster diving is something that is catching up anywhere on earth.
Every morsel of food builds its value upon a web of resources we cannot simply unacknowledged. Again, we are not talking about stale food or waste products. But actually seeking for a way to resolve the case of wasting excess. Therefore, even if India is surely a long way away from resolving food security in India, here are a few options we can definitely begin to count on.