You know it’s Christmas when there’s so much food on the table — and in your stomach. Then, too, there’s so much food wastage that you start feeling guilty while you ruminate over the fate of those severely malnourished children in Mogadishu or Ethiopia who starving to death.
“Waste not, want not” is an adage that says more than a mouthful. Just in time for the joyful — and wasteful — Christmas season, an environmental watchdog has come up with a “Pinoy Food Waste Reduction Guide” in its latest bid to get the public to cut the monumental volume of trash during the holidays. You can say this guide came in the Nick of time. Ho!Ho!Ho!
These precious gems of wisdom were put together by the EcoWaste Coalition in cooperation with various advocates of sustainable consumption and pollution prevention.
Among those who selflessly shared their bright ideas were the Cavite Green Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm, Mother Earth Foundation, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan and Sining Yapak.
“We drew up these practical tips in anticipation of the increased food consumption in December, the merry month of Christmas parties, and other social events such as barkada get-togethers, family reunions and street gatherings,” notes Roy Alvarez, EcoWaste Coalition president.
He adds, “The festivities can devour huge amounts of food resources, create tons of food waste, and exacerbate the garbage disposal problem, particularly in Metro Manila and other urban hubs. Thus, we need to curb this lavishness to a reasonable limit.”
Our anti-wastage advocates share this insettling food for thought: Generally, Filipinos like to play the host with the mostest and do not want to be embarrassed by the shortage of food. So, they proudly offer and serve more than enough food and in the end spoil and throw away food.
The savvy host goes the extra mile to make a “guestimate” of much food would be consumed before buying and preparing food. Dapat sapat lang (it should be just enough) while judiciously keeping the “extra” to a manageable quantity (that is, what you can share with others or use the next day or safely store for later consumption).
According to a food consumption survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department and Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), every Filipino wastes 22 grams of edible food per day.
The survey also shows that rice and its products make up the biggest chunk of food waste at 16 grams per person daily, which is equivalent to about 1,200 metric tons of wasted rice per day.
Globally, some 1.3 billion tons or about a third of the food produced for human consumption are lost or wasted annually, so reports the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Biodegradable discards such as kitchen scraps, food leftovers, animal carcasses. and garden residues comprise almost half of the wastes generated by Metro Manila, which coughs up up to 8,600 tons of waste daily or about 25 percent of the national waste production estimated at some 35,000 tons per day.
If dumped or landfilled, these compostable discards can eat up significant land space and produce methane, a powerful climate gas that has 72 times warming potential as carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, so warns the EcoWaste Coalition methane is produced in dumpsites and landfills as biodegradable discards decompose in the absence of oxygen.
Once more with peelings, er, feeling, Alvarez pleads, “We therefore call on everyone, rich and poor, to take note of our suggestions and together strive to minimize our food waste during the holidays.”
So, here’s the Pinoy holiday guide to reducing food wastes:
1. Plan ahead, keep the menu simple, healthy and wallet-friendly. Opt for dishes that do not spoil easily, prepare just enough for the members of your household and/or confirmed guests and avoid over-the-top revelry. Be guided by the saying “ubos-ubos biyaya, pagkatapos nakatunganga” (spend lavishly, end up with nothing) when you plan for your celebrations.
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