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On Hunger and Food-wastage

By 05/07/2010September 23rd, 2016India, life
Indians: Wasting food and going hungry

Hunger and Food Wastage in India


This post on India and Hunger made me realize just how far I am from my country, and what it has become. This blogger writes and I quote:

One of the sights that greets us each and every day is wasted food lying on the street, in the slum lanes, in garbage dumps, just about everywhere. You see there is always a wedding, a birthday party, a jagran, a religious do, you name it and it is there. At each and every venue there are heaps of plastic and thermocol plates still filled with good and clean food. It is just strewn on the ground till the cleaners sweep it away and carry it to the dump. But food is not only wasted during festivals or special occasions, it is wasted every day in every home as if throwing food was a way of stating that you had reached, that you had graduated from the rural to the urban status. It seems the be the new mantra of success in the slums. I see it every day.”

Preventing waste and recycling was part of my culture, my parents did it as a matter of course: using shopping bags not plastic, turning vegetable peels into manure for the garden, using package bottles and boxes to store other things, never throwing away a grain of rice.

We were taught to polish off everything on our plate, and hand any left-over food to those who needed it.

Wasting food to show off how rich you are is a new and disgusting concept, especially in a country where hundreds die each minute of malnutrition. Hunger in India is a killer, and 20% of the population in my country is chronically hungry. But I guess a generation of the rich, and even the not-so-rich, sold to the glories of excess, and aspiring towards owning Versaces and Rolexes will never understand that.

In my years away from India, I had always thought the values we were taught as children and those we saw around us have remained. But change is the law of the universe, so I guess my country is changing. Sigh.

In your country, do you witness food wastage? Are there any measures in place to prevent it?

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • elybessy says:

    Wasting food is a bestiality!
    I’m happy you afford this topic, because is so common to waste food, meanwhile a bunch of people is starving to death. Last year, I spent some days in a turistic resort in Egypt and when I’m alone I like to observe people, not just for curiousity, but to understand different habits around the world. During the meals, for instance, the families orden a bunch of food and when they go away leave the plates still full of food. I can see that! My parents taught me not waste food, so when bread is left , I like go to the countryside , where a friend of mine keeps horses, chickens so she can feed them with it.
    I read that the growing, processing and transportation of wasted food also contributes significantly to global warming, so we have to think about it seriously. At least avoid purchases of food you may never eat.
    I know we cannot change the world but to sensitize people it always a good thing.
    Hugs, Ely

    • damyantig says:

      Ciao cara, sono cosi contenta che hai visitato il mio blog!

      Non ti ho visto in linea ieri…..ti parlo quando siamo in linea insieme, ok?
      Ti corrego l’inglese per email…

  • indigobunting says:

    Wasting food horrifies me. If I have food that goes bad, I feel that I have somehow failed to schedule my life correctly/prioritize so this doesn’t happen. Of course, one shouldn’t eat too much…but eating appropriately and saving the rest for later should be happening! Painful issues.

    • damyantig says:

      Painful, indeed. Especially when I have often bragged about the culture of saving and recycling to my friends in other countries. I hope this is just a phase, and India and Indians would come back to what has been our heritage for centuries.

  • How incredibly sad. Not just that the hungry die — that in itself is heart-rending, but also because there appears to be a need to flaunt wealth in such an obscene manner. That is poverty of a different kind leading to death of the soul.

    • damyantig says:

      This poverty of the soul is what also really concerns me, Gladys. India always had a richness of the soul, and should never lose it.

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