Skip links

International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste

When I was given this topic for my blog about 7 -8 months ago, I had no idea that this will become so meaningful and important for me and my country.

It was always an important topic, and awareness about it was needed internationally – but that it will play in front of my eyes in tragic horrifying scenes was something I had not imagined in my wildest dreams. My tryst with real shortage of food and hunger made me reflect on food wastage so rampant in parts of the world. The latest calamity, the magnitude of floods that has befallen Pakistan has opened new wounds.

How to feed millions of people who have lost everything in the devastating floods?
How a morsel of food becomes so precious? Every plate of food is elevated almost to the level of a treasure discovered suddenly.Pakistan is a poor country, so wastage of any kind is deplored and discouraged. Everything is recycled. Everything! Food wastage is something that is really looked down on. By our religion Islam and by our culture. We share our food with neighbours, relatives, friends and our servants and employees. Any extra is packed for them to take home. Its only at lavish weddings that you really see food being wasted. However, a few organisations now pick up surplus food from wedding venues and transport them to kitchens in poor localities to share with the needy.

The scenes that I have witnessed in recent times cannot be put into words. How 10 people fight over one bag of flour, how a child hugs a roti (slice of bread) instead of eating it, trying to feel the texture, the softness of the roti. Just having it in her hands was enough ecstasy! Eating it could be postponed for a few more minutes.

Widening of the eyes in surprise and happiness on the face of a 2 year old when one offers a half a cup of sugared milk. Clutching the cup with hasty fingers, not letting it go till the last drop is licked from it. Will I ever be able to erase these scenes from my memory?

Back to the safety of one’s home, feeling as if all your senses have been attacked, laid bare and exploited. You come back in shock and disbelief, at the suffering of your countrymen and women and clear understanding of your very limited capacity to help them.

This knowledge becomes one of the biggest tragedy that you will have to accept in your life. The only way out of this mess that we all have created by being too selfish, too ignorant of climate change, too luxury oriented, is to really make sure that food never gets wasted and find out ways and means to divert it to poor countries that desperately need any surplus that can be spared. And not only food, the extra clothes hanging in your closet, numerous sandals matching your clothed, the warm clothes for various seasons-Everything is a luxury for them. Share whatever you can.

As the rich get richer and poor get poorer, it’s time that awareness hits us and we must snap out of our comfort zone to see what is going on around us!

Talat Pasha
SI Karachi Central