Allow me share a story of mine with you. I still shiver whenever this incident crosses my mind; when I was about 8 or 9 years old, my mum wasn’t around, and I had to be at home with my dad alone for a while. I don’t remember where exactly she went, whether she had left to attend a funeral or if it was my brother who was taken ill and she left to visit him in the hospital. There was some soup in a pot left at home which my father asked me to ensure I heated it so that it didn’t go bad. My little playful mind forgot, and I didn’t even open the pot for about two days. The soup went bad and began to smell bad, but I didn’t even notice. Then my father perceived the smell, traced and found the soup, and all hell broke loose. That day, he took a razor blade and asked me to either eat the soup or he will cut my ear off and hang it around my neck so that I would learn from that. I went on my knees and begged, rolled on the floor, made promises, and did anything I could come up with just so I could get away with an error of judgment. I don’t remember what exactly made him change his mind and made me promise never to waste food again! Up till today, anytime I must dispose of food, I feel guilty and will quietly ask for forgiveness before doing so.
In many countries, there are no measures in place to reduce or recycle waste food. I came across a video on
LinkedIn where in South Korea, leftover food is recycled and used for other things such as fertilizer and animal feed. Households store their leftover food in biodegradable bags which are being taken away for processing and recycling. Food is one thing a lot of people will willingly dispose of without even thinking twice, but have you ever wondered what happens to the food you dispose of, or considered anything else you could do with it? We do not have the technology to recycle our leftovers, what are some of the little things we can do to help reduce food wastage? I have shared a few as follows. You may know them already but let me remind you.
Cook only what you can consume. There are some homes where they ask you what quantity of food you can eat before the meals are prepared. For example, if they are about to cook yam, they will ask you how many slices you’ll eat before cooking. If you come from a background like mine, this will be difficult for you because we eat till we can no longer eat, what if you are not satisfied after eating the required portion you requested? This is however a good way to make sure that little or no food is wasted.
Even if you cook more than what you’re eating, serve a little on your plate. If you are not satisfied, you can always go back and eat some more, that is better than piling up your plate and not eating all. Also eat the food you serve decently so that if you don’t eat all, you can save it and eat it later. For example, if you make porridge, and serve a portion, don’t mix it all with sugar because it will become very watery if you’re not able to eat it all after mixing it all. If you however place sugar on the side and mix it little by little, you will be able to store it and eat it later. Preserve whatever is left so that you can eat it later. You can even decide to finish all the leftovers before you make another fresh meal.
Take your leftovers home when you eat out. Most restaurants have fixed quantities they serve for an amount, you therefore have no control over the quantity you’re served, however, you can request to take your leftover food home and eat it later. After all, when you are home, you usually save your leftovers and eat them later. I know
people who even take their leftovers home to feed their dogs and other pets. Most restaurants don’t have plans for leftover food, in fact managing food waste is a big challenge for them. Some people feel too shy to ask for their leftovers from the restaurants. Don’t be shy, you are only taking steps to reduce food wastage.
You can also use your leftover food to cook other meals. Yes, sometimes, leftovers can be used as main or major ingredients for other meals. When you cook yam and you are unable to consume all of it, you can as well use the leftovers to prepare yam porridge or yam balls. Sometimes, we mash our leftover TZ and use it to cook fresh TZ and this prevents the old TZ from going to waste. I remember how my mum used to make rice balls, and then we poured water into the saucepan used in preparing the rice balls, by morning, we had soaked rice which we cooked and ate as rice pudding. There are a lot of examples of foods that can be reused for other meals, sometimes the meal doesn’t even have to be an existing one, you can come up with something and others will learn from you too.
Another way to avoid wasting food is to feed leftovers to pets and other domestic animals. From my background, we used to keep dogs, goats, poultry, and cats. The dogs and cats were often fed with our leftovers, and they would fight with the rest of the animals over the food. When we have other food waste like what is left on the saucepan after cooking, we wash it off and throw it away so that the fowls can peck on them. This made food waste very rare, however, if we had to, then we were even sure that the animals would eat these foods. Keeping domestic animals is one of the best ways to ensure that you don’t waste food or throw away food. I know someone who doesn’t keep any animals but always leaves a bowl of leftovers at his door to feed stray animals.
Before you throw food away, remember that some people somewhere are going to bed without any food, and have no idea where their next meal will come from. If you save food, then what you have will last longer, which means there will be more food on the market, and once there is more food, the prices will go down and those
who cannot afford the high costs of food will be able to afford it. It might be a long chain, but it goes a long way to reduce food wastage. Sometimes you are tempted to say it is just a little, but a little here and a little there is no longer a little, it becomes more. People no longer feel guilty when they throw food away because they see it as the normal thing to do. We need to raise our children to understand that disposing of food is not a good thing to do.
Maybe it is about time that someone takes this up, becomes an advocate for food security, and creates awareness on the topic. We can all learn from South Korea by cooking consciously and eating consciously. We do not want to make Mother Earth barren by being irresponsible with our eating habits. Remember that if you have the resources to throw away, the planet may not have the capacity to absorb all that. And don’t be too quick to say, I am not contributing to climate change in any way, you are doing so by throwing food away. CHEERS!!!