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Want not, waste not

MARIANNE DE NAZARETH
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Society Instead of buying into supermarket deals that prompt us to spend and waste more, we should shop responsibly

Do not judge by the coverThe imperfectly shaped fruit tastes as good as its glossy peerphoto: M.A. Sriram
Do not judge by the coverThe imperfectly shaped fruit tastes as good as its glossy peerphoto: M.A. Sriram

How many of us fall for the great marketing gimmick, which promises two bottles of the product, for the price of one? How many of us then chuck that extra bottle out once the expiry date arrives without using it?

This is a common practice in the West and is gradually gaining a following in India , as we have a large upwardly mobile population, who buy and waste much more than they consume. We have also begun to ape the marketing paradigms of the world’s super-market chains, who only accept ‘perfect’ fruit or vegetables from the farmer and reject the rest for cosmetic reasons. Hence, we reach out only for that scarlet perfectly-shaped apple on the fruit counter.

“I am always a sucker for deals and buy bottles of jams and sauces which go on sale, two for the price of one,” says Pavitra C. “Often I bin the second bottle as it goes over the expiry date. The same thing happens with my bread or even cartons of yogurt. I am always throwing out half of what I buy.” With fresh water becoming scarce in cities, and farmers finding it hard to cope with our supermarkets’ exacting standards, cutting back on food waste is the need of the hour.

Taste over looks

How different does a beetroot, carrot or potato that is oddly shaped taste in comparison to a perfectly-shaped one? The taste is exactly the same, we just have to learn to go back to our vegetable vendors who sold fruit and veggies of every shape and size.

“Cutting back on waste will help achieve a more sustainable world, where instead of cutting down trees to make room for more and more agricultural land, we can learn to live and feed ourselves with what we presently grow and produce,” says Sherene Zorba of United Nations Environment Programme. “Zero waste should be our baseline with regard to food.”

“People only look for the mango that is yellow and bright,” complains a local fruit vendor. “Actually if mangoes are allowed to ripen naturally, they do not turn bright yellow. They are being force ripened with chemicals and given to us by the middle man. That is because only the bright-coloured fruit are bought and the rest get dumped,” he adds.

Just as we proclaim zero tolerance when it comes to corruption, we should bring zero waste standards into our consumption of food. There is more than enough food to go around and in cities where there are so many poor and hungry, we must look ethically at the amount we waste and decide to cut back or share it, so that there is enough for all.

MARIANNE DE NAZARETH

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