Food in the Air

By Ms. Maimoona Sahar & Mr. Sumangal Haldar

Podcast by Sumangal Haldar

You can listen to the article here or read the transcript below…

I had altogether forgotten my lunch box on the kitchen table where my mother kept it ready for me to carry. This wasn’t the first time; I had missed it many a times earlier and was reminded only when hunger pangs hit me hard on my work station. The easy way out was to rush to the office canteen and enjoy a sumptuous junk food. But the pandemic had forced the canteen kitchen to go non-functional with occasional availability of hot drinks and packed snacks. I was pondering over my forgetfulness and its aftermath scrolling WhatsApp messages and status, when this message caught my attention…maybe because it talked about food and was quite hard hitting.

Based on the report “Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on natural resources”, the Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that global food wastage amounts to more than 1 billion tonnes. The volume of water wasted to produce food each year amounts to the volume of water in Russia’s Volga river. In economic terms, the food wastage amounts to about $750 bn annually.

“My God” the numbers are really big, taking into account all the zeroes behind them. Pandemic is really making people think it over again, this status update being a proof, I lost myself in some conversation that began within me.

How do these global statistics have to do with me at an individual level? What can I do to stop it? The hunger was playing an equal part in this inner conversation, an image of a cake started to float in-front of me. Before I could enjoy the metaphysical taste, someone dragged me to the conversation again. This is an average cake and this is what probably went into its making-some flour, sugar, cream, salt, flavour depending on what the cake is. The person baking not only made efforts into creating this relishing dish but also used a lot of energy-their own and those electrical. There is definitely a point in your life when you have dumped people’s faces into it, and other times when you threw it at someone. “Did I? Yes, I did.”

There are chances you have indulged in throwing food around. From smearing cream of the birthday cake to having a full-fledged food fight in the cafeteria-there are levels to the degree of food wasted. Unquestionably its wrong; Every bit of it. That’s the first step to recognise and acknowledge that it is something bad. Food becomes an object of expression, a “weapon” that makes a point of your emotions and in your head its justified given the fact its harmless. Food fights are glorified for their amusement in movies for making it more interesting. And there is some kind of ecstasy that people experience when they replicate these in real life albeit in smaller measures. Let’s not even talk about bigger food wastage issues at hand without feeling for this one. We need to normalise the fact that this isn’t normal. We need to stop glorifying food fights as a method of amusement. It’s also about resisting retaliation. When someone starts to indulge in these fights, you are part of the cycle by even being a mere spectator; yet, you have the power to stop the damage. So much cry about food wastage and shortage and yet it’s unquestionable that throwing food is fun and that notion has become acceptable. Under the garb of a pastime, this is a practice that needs to be understood as using food as a commodity which is used for displaying our emotions. This is that time.

The inner conversation ended. I was left with a notion to do something. I googled and found this movement @genesiswebzine#throwingfoodaintfun

Join us in taking a pledge you won’t participate in any food throwing activity, even to the smallest degree. That’s the smallest change but it serves a bigger purpose of accepting into our consciousness that throwing food is bad, whether in the bin or in the air-at each other.

Ms. Sahar is a development practitioner who has previously worked with Chief Minister’s office in Government of Haryana on policy implementation of several flagship State initiatives.

Mr. Haldar is an educationist and trainer involved at various levels of teaching and educating students

Views expressed are personal

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