Article in brief: Overconsumption here, eventually leads to under nutrition elsewhere, this article tackles this issue in simple ways we can apply at our own homes.
“The UAE, and not only in Ramadan, has one of the highest rates of food waste in the world.” writes Ayesha Al Mazrui in her article: “Why do we waste so much food in the month of fasting?”
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that around 870 million people are chronically undernourished (2010- 2012). They lack essential nutrients for long periods of time. Malnutrition is also accounted for 5 million child deaths; it multiplied the severity of chronic diseases such as measles and malaria, and stunted the growth of 32.5% of children in developing countries (according to Hunger Notes).
When looking at these statistics, one would think that there isn’t enough food in the world for all of the people. It is quite the contrary. Despite a 70% increase in the global population, world agriculture produces 17% more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago. In other words, it is enough to feed every single person on this planet 2,720 kcal (kilocalories) per day.
The malnutrition of 12.5% of the world’s population is the result of the over consumption of 87.5% of the world’s population, therefore, the solution to this global phenomenon is reliant upon the privileged majority.
Naturally, we may think that it is solely the job of charity organization to feed these mouths, but as global citizens, it is our responsibility to make a change, whatever is the size. Given the inter-connectedness of this world as a result of globalization, whatever small change we do in our own homes, may have a surprisingly large impact on the lives of the under-nutritioned people living far, far away.
These small solutions may hopefully help decrease the population of dissatisfied appetites in the world:
- A highly prevalent scene at the school canteen is of children throwing away the contents of their lunch boxes and opting to purchase their meal from the school canteen. Speaking from experience, the reason of this action is that the children were not involved in the grocery shopping. They were given the same thing to eat, everyday, of the school year, for as long as they can remember. If the whole family was included in the grocery shopping process, everybody’s taste buds will be satisfied thus decreasing the amount of food wasted.
- Another bad habit that I guiltily engaged in was grocery shopping while fasting. Who was I fooling? Was I seriously going to eat those to packets of bread that nobody else likes?
- At weddings and social events, mountains of food are prepared and the ever-increasing surplus goes to waste. The Red Crescent offers a service entitled (Hefth Al Ne’ma) in which it collects untouched leftovers and distributes it to the needy. We can assist them in their noble service by not overfilling our plates at one time; we can always go for seconds, but there is no guarantee that we will finish what is on our plate.
- Building on the previously mentioned point is to increase the amount of trips to the supermarket with a lower time span between each visit; one visit per week with less grocery purchased per visit rather than two visits per month with trolleys of food. This way, we would only shop for the week rather than the month. By doing so, we would decrease the amount of waste produced by the household.
We should develop a new culture in which food is treated as a scared part of our lives, and we should reduce the waste to a minimum. And when it comes to food waste, we should reuse and recycle it rather than treat it as waste. Ultimately, if we apply the teachings of our religion, we would hopefully reach that culture and treat food the way it should be.
We may underestimate the greatness of making an impact on the lives of these whom we do not know, but remember; the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was reported saying: “One of you does not believe until he loves for brother what he loves for himself.”
- Al Mazrui, A. (2013). Why do we waste so much food in the month of fasting? The National, 15th July.
- Worldhunger.org (1971). 2013 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics by World Hunger Education Service. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm [Accessed: 15 Aug 2013].
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