Editorial: #ZeroHunger, everyone's responsibility

"WE all have a part to play in saving food," said the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as it pushed its campaign for #ZeroHunger.

It then points out to something majority of us are guilty of: food waste.

This is done by "buying more than we need at supermarkets, letting fruits and vegetables spoil at home or ordering more than we can eat at restaurants."

How many of us have to dispose of expired food, just because we succumbed to the urge to buy even though we have not considered the food into our week's or month's menu. There is also the tendency to hoard by many to satisfy that twisted sense of security of seeing well-stocked cupboards.

Then there is the very common mistake of Filipinos of ordering more food than can be eaten in the restaurant or filling up one's plate with the intention of leaving half of it, "para sa dwende" or for whatever traditions that all contribute to wasting food.

FAO reported that 1/3 of food produced is wasted all over the world. In developing countries, 40 percent of the wasted food is because of inadequacy of harvest and post-harvest facilities. In developed countries, 40 percent is because of throwing away food that has not been eaten at home, restaurants, and cafeterias. The Philippines is right smack in between the two. The rural areas waste food because harvest and post-harvest facilities are inefficient or insufficient, the well-to-do in the urban areas, having picked up the habits of developed countries throw food because of over-stocking or over-buying.

"We have formed habits that hurt our world and put extra strain on our natural resources. When we waste food, we waste the labor, money and precious resources (like seeds, water, feed, etc.) that go into making the food, not to mention the resources that go into transporting it. In short, wasting food increases greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to climate change," FAO said.

Indeed, there is more to eating or getting only what you can eat than the starving children in Africa, Bangladesh, Sudan, and whatever country or continents are going hungry during the present generation.

FAO has the following tips on changing one's wasteful habits that we can all try to become more conscientious consumers. These are:

Start small – Take smaller portions at home or share large dishes at restaurants. Leave nothing behind – Keep your leftovers for another meal or use them in a different dish.

Buy only what you need – Make a list of what you need and stick to it. Don’t buy more than you can use.

Don’t be prejudiced - Buy “ugly” or irregularly shaped fruits and vegetables that are just as good but look a little different.

Check your fridge – Store food between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius for maximum freshness and shelf-life. First in, first out – Move older products to the front of your refrigerator or cupboard and place newer ones in the back.

Understand dates - “Use by” indicates a date by which the food is safe to be eaten, while “best before” means the food’s quality is best prior to that date, but it is still safe for consumption after it. Another date mark that you can find on food packages is the “Sell by” date, which is helpful for stock rotation by manufacturers and retailers.

Compost – Some food waste might be unavoidable, so why not set up a compost bin!

Donate the surplus – Sharing is caring.
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