THE GREEN WAY OF LENT - 2 -FOOD AND GARBAGE BY SUREN ABREU
Food is essential for our survival, growth, and health. The more naturally we eat, the better it is for our bodies and metabolic functions. All our food and water comes from the Earth which also provides food to the millions of other living species.
While human beings have been around this Earth for around 200,000 years, agriculture is of more recent origin – being dated to around 12,000-10,000 years ago. For millennia, humans lived off the land, starting as vegetarian gatherers eating edible plants, roots, fruits, nuts, and seeds, and later progressing to eating small animals, and still later becoming hunter-gatherers.
With the dawn of agriculture, two things resulted: the abuse of land for human benefit and the possibility of waste. At present, around 11% of Earth’s land area is under cultivation, and agriculture is responsible for around 80% of deforestation. Around 33% of all food produced gets wasted every year! Indirectly this means that all that forest land was lost for nothing, and land is being rendered sterile alarmingly fast.
The Gospel tells us that we do not live on bread alone. We need the good Earth, her atmosphere, her oxygen-producing forests, her cleansing oceans, her beauty.
Earth gives all living creatures enough on which to live well, but not enough for one species to gather at the cost of others. The mutual respect that all living creatures had for one another is
fast dwindling with the human race preying on so many living creatures.
The plenitude of food choices and easy transport of exotic foods has made us both picky and greedy. We can now access foods grown in any part of the world, ignoring the large volumes of carbon dioxide that preservation, packaging, and transportation cause to be released, and the huge amounts of waste and garbage that results.
In Mumbai city alone, only one of India’s many mega-cities, around 73% of its daily 10,000 tonnes of garbage is food waste. When we know that one tonne is 1,000kg, we get 7,300,000kg food wastage every day in one city alone! A large portion of that is from the hotel industry thanks to strict rules on preserving food left over and the ultra-luxurious choices they offer to their patrons of different cuisines at every meal! But a good amount also comes from upwardly mobile citizens’ homes.
Making simple, yet sensible, choices in food procurement, use, and consumption can go a long way towards limiting waste, ensuring health, and preserving the environment. Simple measures like adding raw salads and local fruits to every meal will have great benefits – health and environmental. Carrying a dabba of home-cooked instead of using the school/college/workplace cafeteria is a wonderful option. Growing even a few items at home in balconies or on terraces will not only bring you joy but lower your food bills.
Sun 10 March Reflect on the Gospel passage about Jesus being tempted.
Lent is usually a time to go veg. Learn how consuming too much meat is bad for health and for the environment.
Mon 11 March Be aware of food waste.
Avoid food wastage. Eat leftovers. Buy smaller portions to avoid waste. Cook only how much is required.
Tue 12 March Grow veggies in your home.
However small your house, a terrace, window, or pot can be used to grow coriander, curry leaves, mustard or vegetables. Get the community involved.
Wed 13 March Compost food waste.
Each house can have a small compost bin, or a community can do it together. Wet waste can be made into manure instead of being dumped.
Thu 14 March Buy local produce and from nearby.
It’s fresh, you reduce CO2emissions from travel, and save on transport costs. Take turns to buy bulk for the community and share costs -it is cheaper.
Fri 15 March Go completely meat-free.
Meat production releases green-house gases. Going off meat greatly reduces your carbon footprint plus improves your health.
Sat 16 March Check for food packaging.
Avoid plastic-wrapped foods or canned foods. They add non-biodegradables to waste and are not generally fresh.