Waste Mat Karo, Taste Karo…

It was 8th Aug, 1990, I joined Wst Hostel at Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. Was stepping into a new life — a life other than my home. I had just completed my 10th at the time. In the initial days of my hostel life, I was unable to cope up mainly with the life style and hostel food. Food was (is) never bad, only that the preparation was not as per my taste, which was tuned to Mom’s kitchen. But, over the years, I’ve changed my food habit as well as my taste buds. Nothing great about that; this happens if you stay in hostel for more than 15 years πŸ™‚ . Now, I love hostel food. However, that does not mean, I do not have cribs. Yes, some time I too have cribs, like, “that item is bad, this is more oily, no green veg, chapati is not properly baked, rice is half cooked,” etc., etc… Very common cribs among regular hostelites.

Enjoying and cribbing over food is natural, and we do that in home, hotel or hostel. But, there is a difference in cribbing over food and wasting food. We waste food everywhere — home/hotel/hostel. Even the best preparations in the best banquets are also sometimes wasted. But, in this article I have basically concentrated on the food wastage in hostels.

One can observe the amount of food that gets wasted per day in a hostel and can collect the data of this wastage, the results might be appalling. The amount of wastage in bigger hostels are really big and are easily noticeable. In small hostels too there are food wastage, but hardly any one cares to notice that properly. I am reproducing here some of our observations based on the statistics of Hostel-12/13 mess of IIT Bombay.

To know the exact amount of wastage and the pattern of wastage in our hostel (Hostel 12-13, IIT Bombay), the mess team started taking a stock of it. Every day, the mess team weighs the entire wasted food per meal (breakfast, lunch, tiffin and dinner separately) and reports the same in the mess notice board. Just to give an idea of the amount of food we waste in our mess, I inquired with the Mess Manager and requested him to give me a month’s detail. Thought of putting a week’s data here:

Date Breakfast Lunch Tiffen Dinner Total
01/04/09 16 Kg 50 Kg 10 Kg 45 Kg 121 Kg
02/04/09 15 Kg 45 Kg 14 Kg 52 Kg 126 Kg
03/04/09 20 Kg 55 Kg 12 Kg 50 Kg 127 Kg
04/04/09 18 Kg 48 Kg 10 Kg 55 Kg 131 Kg
05/04/09 21 Kg 45 Kg 20 Kg 60 Kg 146 Kg
06/04/09 17 Kg 50 Kg 10 Kg 45 Kg 122 Kg
07/04/09 20 Kg 48 Kg 09 Kg 55 Kg 132 Kg

With the average per day per meal of 800 mess members, the amount of food wastage one see in the above table is definitely a matter of huge concern. In an average day, the amount of food we waste in the hostel is around 130 Kg, which might be sufficient of another 400+ meals!! That means, every 4 person who eat in our mess waste food sufficient to feed one more person. Is not this statistics alarming? When people in this country die of hunger, a small mess like H-12/H-13 wastes food sufficient for 400 people daily. If you extrapolate this statistics to other hostels of IIT Bombay, then I wonder how much food we waste daily. There are roughly 5000 inmates and 14 hostels in IIT Bombay!

Many students justify the wastage, saying “the quality of food is not good”; “we are paying, so we will waste”; “why should the mess manager makes the profit alone?”, etc., etc… Are these excuses of educated people acceptable? On my part, I simply reject all these excuses. These are in-human!

One should remember that food wastage is not only a local issue, it is also a national issue. There should be an awareness campaign on this aspect. In fact, the mess team had started an awareness campaign in H-12/H-13 mess. They write articles in institute magazines and keep on putting various quotes/photos in the mess with “save food” campaign. Yes, the wastage has gone down after that, but not significantly. The statistics I’m showing here is based on data of the post-awareness campaign. Just imagine, the amount of wastage we had before!!😦

In my last post “Mumbai Blues“, I had narrated the incident of an old man looking for food in garbage/dust bins. In a country like India and in a continent like Asia which faces the biggest challenge of poverty, malnutrition and shortage of food, can we afford such a dangerous luxury of food wastage?

Aamjunta, what is your take on this? What do you say on my quote “Waste Mat Karo, Taste Karo”? Do share your views.

33 Responses

  1. +1

    How old does a man need to be before he knows how much he can eat before he takes his food ?

    I figured out that the best way to save food is to take very small portions and refill if I want to.

  2. well said bala, and cheers AAMJUNTA…
    one really doesnot need to do great things to bring BIG changes. just a small and responsible step can effectively bring a million dollar smile to trillions of AAMJUNTA πŸ™‚

  3. A nice article. The statistics given here is for one mess and for one week. Now if we collect the food wastage data of all hostels, then definitely the figure will show huge amount of food wastage. If we add the data from all hostels in Mumbai, what will be the figure? Further if we add the wastage data from all restaurants and hotels in Mumbai, What will be total figure?
    We should think and determine to avoid food wastage. We can feed the people who are hungry and struggle to get one time food. we say in marathi:- Anna he purna brahma aahe. We should respect it.
    Few years back the students at College of Engg. Pune started to distribute the remaining food in hostels to nearby slum people and they waste minimum food in hostels.
    Yes, we aamjunta can prevent food wastage.
    So decide and act.

  4. dude, you quote statistics, but don’t analyze it completely…. in fact, waste it with senti.
    with 800 mess members, the average waste per person is about 180 gms. So is about 720 gms, i.e. about 4-5 banana, i.e. 4-5 large packs of potato chips, sufficient to feed another studying-playing-thinking iit student (high metabolic rates)? since nobody licks and polishes her/his plate, some part of the food is bound to be wasted. Also, the corners of rotis that turn damp are not quite edible… so the waste is bound to be a few gms at least….
    How is saving food in the mess going to feed the old man in HN? There is an economic and operational framework built around food distribution. Nobody gets it for free, unless someone wastes it.
    scenario 1: people in iit waste food, that is dumped in some corner of powai. the old man come to that place, selects the still edible and good stuff i.e. gets food.
    scenario 2: people in iit waste food. this leads to an increase in the demand for grains etc. the supplier decides to increase her/his supply to meet this extra demand. so new storehouses etc are set up. thus few more jobs are created in the logistics for this. the old man from HN manages to find employment in this sypply chain, and hence can afford his own food.

    Waste is the supreme virtue of our capitalistic society.
    All this is not to defend those who waste food. Since the mess members pay for all the food bought, everybody ends up paying for the wasted food. Messing in hostels is a cooperative activity and hence comes along with some responsibilities. So, irrespective of the starving people, I don’t want to shell out my hard earned money to pay for some a**holes wastage.

  5. @Shrek: Hold on…. How much one normal person eat in a general meal? Not more than 700-800 grams? There are people who eat more, but there are also people who eat hardly 400-500 grams in a meal. Even then, if not four, five or six … people’s wastage can feed one. I think aamjunta will agree to this.

    The scenario you have given are completely base less and cannot be justified for food wastage. Have you seen, the way the hostel mess collects wastages? Dumped in place… How do you think some one can get some edible stuff from that? The other scenario- right, you get employment. But, where is grain? We do not have that… India is not self sufficient.

    Oh, the capitalistic society you are talking. Then you are right.

    Yes, you have paid money for food, not to through food. It is a criminal offense. I have money, but that does not mean that I can buy and dump it. In crisis time, the food items are sold in que.. like control sugar or kerocine. Food is national property. Nobody ask you to pay for those a**holes. What aamjunta might be thinking here is how to minimize the wastage. We had many such fights in our hostel with our mess co and mess manager. Even, there were suggestions to put fine, if some one is found wasting food. It was unanimous, but do not know why the council did not implement.

    @aamjnta: Reading this blog for the first time. sharing my views through this comment.

  6. Being a part of the mess team, once upon a time, we had decided to start writing these statistics. During the first week, people used to stare at the notice board, taken aback by the food wastage. But slowly, complacency kicked in and people stopped paying attention to the board. However, outsiders, i.e. parents, guests, MI/Techfest participants still come and stare at the board. What impression are we sending outside?

    About the wastage figures. I would like to take the actual wastage at 65-70% of the figure put up there. This is to account for things that we cannot eat, but go into the bin. For e.g. lemon skins, bones of non-vegetarian foods. Also, water gets added generously to the bin, so the actual wastage is lower. Still there is no justification to wastage. We should consume what we need but not waste what we don’t. The mess doesn’t restrict people on the amount they can eat. This doesn’t mean that people should take whatever they want and throw away later.

  7. Thanks Bala, whoswo, Rajendra, Shrek, Vino and Vinay for your comments.

    @Bala: Well said.

    @Rajendra: Nice initiative.

    @shrek – hmmm, my god, you have de-constructed my construction 😦

    Not eatable and wastage: totally different. How can you justify throwing Laddus and Rasgullas? Very common in H12 mess. Have witnessed yesterday also. I never wanted to say that give the poor man in HN by not wasting food. What I wanted to emphasize here is some thing different. When we do not have sufficient food, how do you justify the wastage? Have you heard about the statements of Bush?, that “India is consuming more food resulting in food shortage in the world”.

    > Waste is the supreme virtue of our capitalistic society.
    hmmm… what to say? I don’t think India is a capitalistic country.

    “I can afford, hence I will through”, if this is the philosophy, then no one can help.

    By the way, I am not senti… The figures in the table speak on their own. Very little to analyze πŸ™‚

    @Vino: Thanks for the complements. Hope you will continue reading aamjunta articles. Don’t get excited, take it easy πŸ™‚

    @Vinay: Appreciate your analysis. I think 30% of the wastages are unavoidable – “lemon/banana skins, bones of non-vegetarian foods”.

    Good to see some kind of awareness/argument/discussion going on. Keep writing your comments.


  8. we sud never waste the food
    sud think of millions who have to sleep empty-stomach

  9. @vinu jurge: “The scenario you have given are completely base less and cannot be justified for food wastage.”

    I have not justified food wastage. In fact I abhorr it, more due to my lower middle class upbringing than any economics related reason. The reson for the scenarios is that MangoMan seems to say “don’t waste food.. there are starving people in this country”. This does not quite fit in with the real world. As for scenario 1: I have seen starving children chase away pigs from a dust bin and then rummage for food to eat (not plastics to sell etc.). So this is not too far from reality, just that you may not see it often in Powai.
    scenario 2: Many of the residents of the low cost houses/shanties behind the chaple at YP, work at IIT as house keepers etc or in the shops outside IIT. Most of that commerce started due to the establishment of the insti. So this scenario too, is not unreal.

    “Have you seen, the way the hostel mess collects wastages?”

    (Ad hominem) I have seen it for 10 years.

    “But, where is grain? We do not have that… India is not self sufficient. ”

    Hence the prices are high… hence the middle men make profits, and pass on, at least some portion of it, to the BPL farmers.
    Also, you refer to me as “Shrek”, so we probably know each other. Could you please introduce yourself?

    @aamjunta: it was not my intention to deconstruct your argument; but your post was on a topic, I am senti about. So I expected a much more sophisticated argument for not wasting food. There were many in the H7 mess who had that attitude that “since i can pay, i shall waste”, so the money argument was the only thing that could counter that.

    @vinay: Till about 2001, the food was put in various containers and kept on each table. So that people did not have to leave their seats for refilling their plates. that time, the food wastage per person used to be much less than it is now. Then H8 got the tin-boxes used to keep food warm, and the food wastage spiked. Maybe the earlier system was better, but not easily scalable I guess.

  10. @shrek – yes I know you, I do not think you know me. I was in h12 last year. From your comments that is what I understood. Your arguments were only for food wastage and its positive aspect in a capitalistic way. How do you justify?

  11. Hey Shrek – you are senti about food wastage, but your arguments still says some thing else.

    Yes, I argue, that β€œdo not waste food, there are millions of people dying in hunger”. You may not like this statement, but there are growing numbers in India. The money argument you gave is immatured. Yes, many do that. I know people in our hostel who justify this.

    By the way, I wrote this small (smallest) article in my blog to start a discussion on food saving. Gave some arguments, and left for others to share. I think, it is happening πŸ™‚ Whether my argument is “sophisticated” or not, I am no one to decide. I leave that on my readers. I’ll be happy, if this article saves a small grain from wastage. A common man, adding a bit to the society πŸ™‚

    @Shrek & Vino – cool down.

  12. @aamjunta:” Hey Shrek – you are senti about food wastage, but your arguments still says some thing else.”

    No re. I am saying that the arguments you gave in your post about not wasting food because people are starving are naive and in fact wrong. The capitalistic arguments are used to debunk what you say (this does not imply that I am saying that food should be wasted). It may be possible to say that “wasting food is evil” is a categorical imperative; but i am not sure if people will accept that.

    I am offering another resaon (albeit, utilitarian) for not wasting food i.e. “don’t pay for a**holes”. I would be glad to know if anyone can find a fault with this line of reasoning.

    and sorry for the use of “a**holes” on your blog, but I could find no better word for sources of food-waste πŸ™‚

    “@Shrek & Vino – cool down.”

    garam kaun ho raha hai dost? Speaking of which, I do wish my capitalistic bosses would turn down those office ACs; I am chilled to the bone. they don’t have a clue of “wasting electricity is evil”.

  13. The ability to pay, doesn’t give anybody the right to waste. Shrek, we’ve heard these arguments that if food is kept in various containers, wastage would be less. But then, what about the wastage of butter, bread and also what aamjunta says about ladoos, rasgullas, etc. The bulk of waste occurs when people throw away vegetables and rice. Now, what is bad about rice? And that too daily? I would agree to food being bad on a particular, if there is a spike in the wastage figure. But no, over days it remains the same.

    Also, in the H12-H13 mess, there is a misconception. UGs waste more than PGs. Again, that is a myth and can be supported by the wastage figures. People point to the decrease in wastage during summer vacations, but forget that the number of mess members too has reduced. So, if you look at the wastage per member, it almost remains the same. On some days, the absolute value too remains the same.

  14. Was waiting for this post for sometime now and finally the wait is over. I personally have had the opportunity of observing people throw away, items like butter, jam etc. The quantities would put the parents of the same individuals to shame. There is a funny logic that people have”since we have paid for it, we can waste it”. I mean its absurd coming out from individuals who are at the highest seat of knowledge.

  15. Thought of Sharing one article on food wastage. Hope that will add some thing more to my arguments.

    Social Marketing The ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ Campaign in the UK

    Thanks Balaji for forwarding this.

  16. Nice Post Dada!

    Being a resident of IIT Hostel for the past 5 years, I feel that the primary reason for food wastage is that many hostel inmates are quite lazy and negligent. They do not want to go twice or thrice to go to the counter to take the food required. They go only once and normally take more than they want to eat for that meal and end up wasting a significant portion of that. This is the problem with the buffet system.

    One can claim that this can be tackled by keeping food items on each table where 12 students sit (similar to Tansa). The problem is that our guys are so lazy to take food just by stretching their hands and will invariably waste similar amount of food. I find no solution to reduce food wastage with lazy fellows all over!

  17. I’ve heard about fine system for wasting food. But in my stay in the campus I’ve never seen the fine imposed on anybody. What does that mean.. ?? None as an individual single entity crossed the threshold of maximum amount of food wastage or Taste and/or guest are the major contributors for wastage.

    If fine method is not working well then foods may be served in small quantity( may be in packets / foils). A good quality (=TASTY )food in proper quantity may not cause a high wastage.

    Now tasty is the most difficult thing to define especially looking to a large no of people. Also “Mood is a major factor for Food”. It’s very difficult to find any solution.

    Instead of keeping all food centrally, keeping food on the dining tables (Like the TANSA way) or option for different types of food at the same time and changing monotonous mess menu frequently may reduce food wastage a bit.

  18. This topic holds a good sence of humor..Even we dont hesitate to fight for basic things, but we always loose to see whats happening below our foot where we step. So this is the right time to manage every odd to a single right…..

  19. I lost the intention of the mail.

    Assume no one waste the food. How does it help the hunger people? In fact the opposite is true – Wasting food implies spending more money and more demand which implies helping the economy (in turn people)

    Note : – I am not anti to the article, just I am trying to make sense of the article πŸ™‚

  20. @Santhosh: Saving Food not only helps addressing problems of hunger, it helps us too.

    One has to remember that the total amount of food we have in this world is not enough for all of us. And with population growing at an alarming rate, it is again becoming difficult to provide food to all. With the philosophy of “I can, so I’ll”, demand increases, but not the rate of production. The land availability does not increase, the duration of cultivation does not reduce. Hence, the prices of food items increase to match our wastage, not the quantity of food items produced. Poor people cannot afford this high price of food items. So, virtually we deny them their share.

    So, by wasting food do we help them or trouble them?

    Wasting and spending are not the same. They are two different concepts.

    Wasting food may create job opportunities, but the positive effect of new jobs we create by wasting is minimal as compared to other allied problems we create by wasting food.

    By wasting food items we also pollute the environment with the packing materials (plastics) and greenhouse gases like methane emitting from food decay, waste energy (especially electricity, and we are not self sufficient there also) for packing and other related reasons. There also we create problem for the poor who usually live in slums and near the huge dump-yards. Is it because, “we will, as we can“?.

    Hope this clarifies my point “waste mat karo, taste karo

  21. Any new post? On election? Waiting for your post πŸ™‚

  22. hmmm…. throwing food is bad, but Providing rice at Rs 2.00 per Kg is worse. No one works after that.

  23. oh! so many enthusiastic people discussing! wonder if a fraction of people in India govt learn how to save food grains.

  24. It makes more sense when you provide statistics as this… I believe the best way is to eat in small portions. Re-serve yourself only if required.

  25. Yes, this not only save food but also helps us to live longer and happier… Thank you.

  26. Shocking and bizarre piece of news : “Wedding food worth Rs 339 crore goes waste” – http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-10-12/bangalore/34411336_1_food-wastage-quality-food-marriage-halls

    Educate people only is the only option left for us.

  27. Wastage is illegal. More than that wasting food and asking others to eat that wasted food. This is inhuman.

  28. Dear Webmaster! This is Ione Paviol and I just discovered your blog with all these useful posts. It seems that you are really dedicated.

  29. Hey there, it’s Joye Devalcourt. It is a good work and you should continue. Do not waste food, if you do not like, then do not throw, better do not take.

  30. I’ve been browsing online more than 2 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me.

  31. I am hostel warden. I follow same chart in my mess. And its is effected . and what I do more for refuse food wastege?

  32. Great. Can you please little elaborate what is refuse food wastage?

  33. Thanks. May be you can involve the students more in deciding the menu. Along with this their continuous feedback can help in reducing the refuse food wastage.

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