Imagine a place where food is scarce, where you don’t get three meals a day, let alone your favourite fruits. A place where you have to go to bed hungry because there isn’t anything available to cook.
It’s hard to do so, isn’t it?
That’s because today you are blessed with the best of food produce from not just your local market, but different parts of the globe. You have the option of eating any fruit at any time of the year, even mangoes in winter! And, you have the finest restaurants serving you the tastiest cuisines from around the world. But, did you know we waste about 1.3 billion tons of food every year?
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 20,000 children under the age of five die from hunger every day. Shocking as it may seem, one in every seven people in the world go to bed hungry. Which is why, the theme for this year's World Environment Day is “Think. Eat. Save.”. It is a campaign that is against food waste and food loss, and encourages billions around the globe to reduce their foodprint.
Food wastage and food loss
Food that is meant for human consumption, but for various reasons is removed from the human food chain is known as food loss or waste. A lot of times food that is meant for consumption gets spoiled, spilled or lost during its process in the food supply chain.
Hence, before it reaches its final product stage, its quality and value are significantly reduced. This is known as food loss and typically takes places at production, post-harvest and distribution stages of the food supply chain.
Food waste, on the other hand, is in relation to the food that completes the food supply chain and reaches the final product stage. This is food of good quality and is fit for consumption. However, it doesn’t get consumed because it is either discarded or left to rot. This takes place at the retail stage — meaning your local grocer or supermarket has not taken the necessary steps to preserve the food — and consumption stage of the food supply chain.
You can prevent food loss by cooking and eating in a systematic and planned manner. The next time you are in the kitchen, remember FIFO — First in, First Out. It helps you eat the food items bought first and stored in your refrigerator or pantry. After you eat what was bought first, you can consume the next batch of stored food items.
It is estimated that global food production is the largest single driver of biodiversity loss.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), global food production occupies 25 per cent of all habitable land and is responsible for 70 per cent of fresh water consumption, 80 per cent of deforestation, and 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
The food you choose to buy or consume has an impact on the environment. The more your food travels to reach you, the more fossil fuels are burnt in feeding you. Your food miles have a direct impact on our planet’s future.
You can reduce climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions by eating locally grown food. We waste a lot of time and energy growing the wrong food at the wrong time and at the wrong place. Eating fresh, seasonal food is not just nutritious but ecologically and economically sound. By making small changes in your diet, you can greatly reduce your carbon foodprint.
Think. Eat. Save.
This year as we celebrate World Environment Day on June 5, it is important to think before we eat and save the environment, much like the Dabbawalas of Mumbai. Under the Dabbawala system, 120 tons of food is transported and approximately 16 tons goes waste.
As a result, the Dabbawala Foundation has come up with the unique concept of “Share my dabba”. Those who have leftover food in their lunch boxes can simply paste a red “Share” sticker on their dabba. These dabbas are then segregated easily and passed on to volunteers who feed 200,000 hungry children in Mumbai. Now, isn’t that smart thinking?
Food for thought
Save the environment with the food you eat
- Buy your weekly fruits and vegetables from the local farmer’s market.
- Make an informed decision before you sit down to eat.
- Choose foods that have less of an environment impact, like organic food that is free of chemical fertilizer and seasonal, fresh veggies
- When you to go a restaurant, order carefully.
- Eat everything on your plate and avoid wasting
At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janerio, Canada originally proposed the celebration of June 8 as World Oceans Day. It was, however, in 2008 that the United Nations General Assembly officially recognised the day. The future of our oceans is essential to food security as well as the health and survival of all forms of life. The oceans also play a critical role in the climate of our planet.
The day is an opportunity to honour the oceans of the world and raise awareness on the challenges faced by communities working for the protection of these water bodies. The two-year theme (2013 and 2014) is together we have the power to protect the ocean. India lends its name to one of the world’s oceans, the Indian Ocean. The third largest ocean in the world, the Indian Ocean faces its share of problems, including loss of marine life and pollution caused by dumping of toxic wastes. Here’s how you can raise awareness about the Indian Ocean’s environmental issues: worldoceansday.org/celebration-ideas/