Editorial: #NotWasting

THE United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has a call this season that strikes at the heart of Dabawenyos whose celebratory mood in the countdown to Christmas and New Year's Eves were tempered by the twin tragedies that hit the city: the flooding by Tropical Storm Vinta, which displaced thousands from their homes when Davao River swelled and inundated subdivisions and informal settlements along its banks, and the mall fire that is said to have killed 38, with one of the 38 still missing.

This call is #NotWasting food.

As FAO reported, worldwide, 1/3 of all food produced are either lost or wasted. This is around 1.3-billion tons per year.

"And food isn’t the only thing that is wasted when it goes uneaten: all of the resources (like seeds, water, feed, etc.), money and labor that go into making it are also lost," the FAO's article on not wasting food for the remaining holidays reads.

It thus put forward six tips that we can all adapt as we partake of the New Year's feasts.

1. Be realistic. Know how many are really going to gather for the New Year's Eve celebration and cook just enough, that will include one or two items that you can give away to guests or neighbors.

2. Freeze the leftovers or let your guests bring them. Filipinos expect the "bring house" or "take home". Make sure you pack most of them and just leave enough for the family to nibble on while the elders still try to recover from the holiday hangover. Do not hoard. Food spoil, do not allow yours to.

3. Turn the leftover food into the next day’s lunch or dinner. No. 3 isn't really a problem with Filipinos as we have this gift of recycling leftovers, starting from lechon paksiw, sinigang na paa ng lechon, pritong lechon, and lechon sisig. But it doesn't have to be only for lechon. Be creative and turn leftover pasta in red sauce into minestrone soup as well as make casseroles from leftover meat dishes. Plus the law-uy (vegetable soup) with leftover pieces of grilled tuna. Freeze all these leftovers and cook them into something different, with the stress on freezing lest they end up being spoiled.

4. Finish leftovers before making something new. Yes, our tastebuds may have had enough of the mechado, menudo, lechon, macaroni salad, spaghetti... but, it's food on the table, eat them all, or better yet, share them.

5. Allow guests to serve themselves so they can choose as much or as little as they want. There's that alta sociedad feel when food is served individually, but with the season turned into suffering instead of a celebration, count every rice grain that is wasted and imagine how many are going without food. Those who are invited to join a meal are advised to just get what you can consume. The Filipino habit of leaving a substantial portion on the plate to be discarded just to show that the person is not "patay-gutom" is among the most politically-incorrect and wasteful habits of the social-climbing Pinoy. Get what you can consume, and leave a clean plate with your spoon and fork put together and positioned at 4 o'clock angle. There's more class in that.

6. Donate what you don’t use. If you are the type who buy extras because of some hoarding tendencies, share with local charities or donate to the flood victims.

As FAO reminded, having food on the table is a privilege. Don’t waste it!
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