Malnutrition and Food Wastage

Nikhil Kamath | 11-May-2017

Malnutrition and Food Wastage are two major problems that India is facing at present. Malnutrition refers to an unbalanced diet in which the nutrients required are either lacking or in excess. As per the statistics, more than 1/3rd of the world’s malnourished children live in India, making India one of the highest ranking countries in the world for the number of children suffering from Malnutrition. Similarly, Food Wastage is also a major concern for India since the amount of food wasted by India in a year is as much as the amount of food consumed by a whole of United Kingdom.

Malnutrition and Food Wastage

Image courtesy- orfonline.org

I understand that the numbers given above are quite hard to believe, but sadly this is the true picture. India wastes 21 million tonnes of wheat produced annually due to lack of proper storage and distribution. This amount is equivalent to the entire wheat production in Australia. The Global Hunger Index Report of 2015 ranked India 20th among the leading countries with a serious hunger situation. Food wastage does not indicate only the hunger and pollution our society is living in, but also the economic problems the Indian economy is facing.

Government policies are not the only thing to blame here; it is also our culture and traditions which are contributing to the problem of food wastage. In India, weddings are a major source of food wastage. The bigger the wedding, the larger the gathering and more the amount of food spewed out as waste by such gatherings. If we talk about malnutrition in India, then economic inequality is one of the main causes of malnutrition. A huge chunk of the Indian population still lives below the poverty line without access to basic amenities. Due to this low social status of the people living in such conditions, their diet lacks both quality and quantity.

Malnutrition causing deficiencies of various important nutrients can cause long term damage to an individual and also the society. Being under-nourished affects an individual’s concentration and productivity at work. The low pay due to low productivity traps an individual in the vicious circle of poverty, and this also brings inefficiency to the Indian society where still most of the industries are labour intensive. Food wastage also affects society in a similar way, and most of us are still unaware of this. There is a kind of Ripple Effect when it comes to food wastage. When you waste food, you indirectly waste the water used in agriculture, you waste the effort of the labour involved in the process of agriculture and food processing and also you waste the electricity involved in the process of food processing.

Various policies have been made to fight the problem of malnutrition and food wastage, but the implementation has not been quite effective. In India still, 40% of fruits and vegetables are lost between the producers and the consumers. Stronger policies and plans should be in place and implemented effectively to bring these numbers down so that the society can grow at a faster pace than it is growing at present. Since the problem of food wastage and malnutrition is interrelated, we can fight both the problems simultaneously through effective management. There are a number of things which you can do at a personal level, which will help you reduce food wastage by you.

Here are some of the things which you can do to control food wastage:

  1. In India, about 20% of what an urban household buys is being thrown away. Determine the amount of food items you buy and the amount you consume. The difference in what you buy and what you consume is the amount you waste. Once you have a precise data of your consumption, you will be able to plan out and reduce the amount you waste.
  2. If you see food being wasted in your school/office canteens, get in touch with NGOs who offer the facility of transporting the excess food to the needy.
  3. Similarly, if you plan a party or a gathering at home, at a hotel, or at a banquet; ensure that the excess/leftover food is transported to an orphanage, old age shelter or any similar place.
  4. And the last thing that you need to do is DON’T WASTE A BIRTHDAY CAKE BY APPLYING IT ON PEOPLE’S FACES. If you don’t want to eat it, give it to someone who will eat it and appreciate it.

These are some small steps you can take towards a bigger goal of ensuring zero hunger and food wastage in India.

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About the Author
Nikhil Kamath
Nikhil Kamath is passionate about food and music and currently pursuing Chartered Accountancy. He loves to explore new restaurants across various cities he gets to visit. Nikhil writes about the various restaurants he visits on his food blog. He is also a guitarist and loves to listen to bands and artists.