Do you know how much food waste the world generates? It is close to one third of the world’s food according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. This shocking amount of food is wasted when more than 820 million people in the world go hungry, of whom about 135 million suffer from acute food insecurity. In Singapore, we generated 744 million kilograms of food waste in 2019.
In a recent article by The Straits Times, the National Environment Agency (NEA) launched $1.76 million funding to help organisations to treat and recycle food waste.
As the project leader of Caritas Singapore’s “Heal Our Home” campaign, I applaud NEA for putting in much effort to reduce food waste. By doing so, we reduce greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming, which in turn adds to the effects of climate change.
But, as individuals, we can do more.
For me, I choose to buy, cook and order only what I can finish. I ask for less food when I know that I will not be able to finish the standard portion, even though some hawkers will share that the price remains the same for less. I take it as an opportunity to inform the hawker on food wastage.
Another way is to takeaway food and heat up leftovers for the next meal. When I cannot control the amount of food served, such as in a restaurant, I bring along my food containers to take the leftovers home. It is nothing to be ashamed of.
In fact, we should be proud of not wasting food because it shows our respect for the food produced and the farmers who toil to harvest food crops. Learning about how food is produced has helped me to better appreciate the food on my plate.
At home, I organise my food according to expiration date so that I can remember to consume them in time, freeze them for longer shelf life, or share them with my neighbours.
What we need in Singapore is a change in mindset about food waste. Most of us do not go to bed hungry because we have a good government and many other organisations working hard to ensure food security.
But if we can think beyond ourselves and remember those suffering from hunger, our Christ-like empathy will lead us to be more responsible in the choices we make and be true disciples of God. I hope this reflection can benefit you in one way or another.
Join me to stop food waste. #CaritasSGHealOurHome
Eve Ong is part of the Parish Engagement Team at Caritas Singapore. She is a passionate environmental advocate who has a great love for God and His creation.