The Food We Waste

Pic: renewableconsult
(Pic: renewableconsult)
Do you know that approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted yet millions are starving elsewhere in the world?
Do you know that Allah strictly forbade wasting foodstuffs in the Holy Qur’an and that you and me can manage to alleviate this food wastage in Malawi?

The United Nations Environmental Protection (UNEP) says the impact of food waste is not just financial. Environmentally, food waste leads to wasteful use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides; more fuel used for transportation; and more rotting food, creating more methane – one of the most harmful greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change. Methane is 23 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. The vast amount of food going to landfills makes a significant contribution to global warming;

  • Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).
  • The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world’s annual cereals crop (2.3 billion tonnes in 2009/2010).
  • In the United States 30% of all food, worth US$48.3 billion (€32.5 billion), is thrown away each year. It is estimated that about half of the water used to produce this food also goes to waste, since agriculture is the largest human use of water. (Jones, 2004 cited in Lundqvist et al., 2008).
  • United Kingdom households waste an estimated 6.7 million tonnes of food every year, around one third of the 21.7 million tonnes purchased. This means that approximately 32% of all food purchased per year is not eaten. Most of this (5.9 million tonnes or 88%) is currently collected by local authorities. Most of the food waste (4.1 million tonnes or 61%) is avoidable and could have been eaten had it been better managed (WRAP, 2008; Knight and Davis, 2007). Source: Global Food Losses and Food Waste – FAO, 2011, The environmental crisis: The environment’s role in averting future food crisis  – UNEP, 2009
It is against this background that we can learn some examples from a USA based Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) called Food Bank of Northern Indiana who established food banks to alleviate hunger problems.
In this dispatch from USA, Marshall Dyton who is currently in the USA pursuing the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program shares his experiences on the inspiration that he got when he visited Feed Indiana premises.
Feed Indiana Indiana
“It is sad to note that people are wasting food in their houses yet their neighbors have nothing to feed their children, which is against the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W)…. Here in Indiana, the organisation is sourcing food from the community and then distribute it to the needy, so that no one goes to bed on an empty stomach,” he said.
According to the organisation’s website, this initiative managed to distribute 7.1 million pounds of food.
“Today, the rate of hunger insecurity in northern Indiana is 17%.  This epidemic is silent.  When all of our residents have food security and access to nutritious foods, we will be even better physically and mentally prepared to take on life’s challenges,” says the website.
Other organisations like The Unity Gardens have gone to the extent of cultivation their own crops and let the needy pick form the gardens freely. This initiative ensures that everyone within the neighborhood have enough meal for the day.
Muslims in Malawi can learn from this program and establish organisations that can collect foodstuffs and distribute it to the needy instead of only waiting for the month of Ramadhaan.