The other day, there was a get together at home. We had invited two families for lunch. All in all, there were six adults and seven children. First the children ate, while the mothers stood near by serving them. The mothers did try forcing some stuff that the children probably wouldn't choose themselves, given an option. Just any mother would do the same thing, I thought. Some of the elder kids finished all that was served, some ate bits here and there, some feigned to eat. At the end of a noisy meal, there was lot of food left in their plates. When I was about to clear the table, the two Mothers grabbed the plates from which their children ate and said, ' Don't trash it. I will eat from this plate.' Quite contrary to what I see here when I eat out.
When I eat out, I am not supposed to refill my first plate as it may lead to contamination and infections. If one refills his or her plate thrice, he or she has to eat from three plates. You get those looks if you take the same plate to the buffet counter. Once the waiter at the counter even asked one of my friends to discard her used plate before she refilled it, much to her embarrassment. Not only restaurants, but homes also mirror the same mentality. 'Take another plate. Don't bother, I anyway use the Dishwasher.'
We waste food mindlessly. We use resources mindlessly.
Trash it. A growing menace these days. One of my US-bred friends' daughter visits me often. In the few hours that she spends with me at home, she trashes half the food that is offered to her. After eating a little bit, either she leaves the food on the table or simply trashes it in the bin herself. In spite of my attempts to subtly correct her, she continues her habit, much to my chagrin.When there isn't reinforcement at home, how will she ever change for the better?
We are a seven billion today. The demand for food grows by the hour. 'Globally, we waste 30–40% of all food produced, or one of every three calories. If we could eliminate waste, we would halve the amount of new food we need to produce by 2050.'
I remember a brief from a MNC client a few years ago. To come up with a campaign to tackle food waste in the cafeteria. Lunch was subsidized and there was definitely excess. The brief was simple: 'please don't try shock tactics of showing pictures of famished children. It simply doesn't work as we have already tried that. Let's try some thing more stark and in the face.' What could be more stark?
Using disposable essentials has become the very fabric of our culture. We trash things even before we use them, or after using them partially or marginally. When our children feel thirsty, they open kitchen cabinets where juice is stored in pouches in colourful cartons with pictures of apples and melons, multiple ones piled on top of the other. I remember during my childhood days, how my thirst was quenched at the compound well. All of us drank from the self same heavy metal bucket, each taking turns. When guests visit us, we hand over a bottle of mineral water instead of that customary water that was given in glasses. When hunger comes calling, canned soups, cookies, cakes, biscuits and pre-packaged puddings are chosen by our kids.
I salute the likes of my friends, the two mothers mentioned in the beginning of this post. One, a Doctor by profession and the other an Engineer. Such values am sure come from families. In spite of being here in the US for years on end, I see how their values run deep.
Home is where it begins. Home is where it gets reinforced. Are our homes advocates of such values that our Planet cries for or harbingers of dark days to come?
Photocredit: WRAP Love Food, Hate Waste campaign